Context: in France, access to some elite schools is done through an extremely competitive exam that takes place nationally for everyone at the same time. To take part, students go through two years of total devotion to learning (it is insane).
This is to say that this exam is the final stage of two years of "no life" and you have one shot.

I heard that a friend of a friend of my son is Jewish and the exam this year falls around the 15 to 29 of April, and that this matches an important Jewish celebration. When I had a look at the dates it seems this is Passover.

He will not be able to take part in the exams because of (again, this is the recollection I got) a strict interdiction of working at that time.

If this is indeed the case: do you have a mechanism to get an exception for such a unique case?

I was curious about that because as much as "normal" work can stop, there are still medics, firefighters, and workers in places where you cannot just stop the company (metallurgy for instance) - so they must somehow have exceptions. Wouldn't they apply to cases where skipping work voids years of preparation?

1 Answer 1


Passover is comprised of two types of days. Days of the festival, on which there are no exceptions - writing for exams is absolutely forbidden - and intermediate days, on which it is only customary not to work or write and exceptions can be made.

The intermediate days are the 4 middle days in Passover. This year (2024), passover is on the 23-30 of April. So the night of the 22nd, the entire 23rd, and the 24th until nightfall are part of the festival, as well as the night of the 28th, the entire 29th, and the 30th until nightfall, so no exceptions can be made during those specific times.

It's also worth noting that any Friday night to Saturday night is equally forbidden, which some universities forget when trying to figure out the complex pattern of Jewish holidays for accommodation purposes.

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    To fill in more: there are "absolutely-no-work" days, and then there are "consider less work" days. On the latter, work that can't be postponed and would cause a great loss is permissible. On the former, though, you are correct that medics and firefighters keep working -- but that's because lives could be on the line. An academic exam is not an actual, living-breathing life on the line. You can call it "no life" figuratively, but not literally. One is obligated to lose all their money to avoid violating the holiday. Now could you arrange to do the whole thing orally and thus not "work", maybe.
    – Shalom
    Mar 17 at 1:06

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