Carolina Jews for Justice, which had been outspoken about this year’s NC Pride festival being held on Yom Kippur, says a schedule change announced last week is too little, too late.
The annual festival has been held in the past on the last Saturday in September. This year, that’s September 30, which is also Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and one of the holiest Jewish holidays.
Carolina Jews for Justice was among several Jewish groups that spoke out against the timing, calling it a “very significant and hurtful oversight.” In response, NC Pride (about a month after the snafu was pointed out) announced that this year’s festival would forgo the usual daytime parade and instead run from four p.m. on September 30 to four a.m. on October 1 with “evening street festivals” in Durham and Raleigh.
Yom Kippur, which for many observers includes hours of fasting and synagogue services, ends at sundown.
Mille Rosen, speaking on behalf of Carolina Jews for Justice, says the change may allow more Jewish people to attend the event but doesn’t correct the fact that the Jewish community was overlooked in the first place.
“They didn’t change it once they knew about the problem,” she said, noting the parade is a main draw of the festival.
NC Pride apologized for the conflict, saying other events had been scheduled around the September 30 date, making it difficult to reschedule.
“As of July 1, the Pride Committee of NC has been working on a solution to the date overlap of NC Pridefest and the High Holy Days of the Jewish calendar. We are now excited to announce new schedule of events that would allow ALL to attend,” the organization’s website says.
NC Pride executive director John Short told the Herald-Sun the schedule change is “the best under the circumstances” and that the festival won’t conflict with a Jewish holiday again for several years—“the implication being that every few years, there’s a group that can’t participate,” Rosen says.
Rosen says the whole ordeal was an example of Christian-centrism and the “thoughtlessness of Pride leadership in general.” Several groups, including Carolina Jews for Justice, asked that the event be moved to October 1, but Rosen says NC Pride was unresponsive.
“We asked them to change the date, not make it an overnight event,” Rosen says.
Rosen says it’s not the first time NC Pride has left out a particular group. In 2015, musician Laila Nur said she was assaulted by a Pride official while trying to read a statement on behalf of a Black Lives Matter Group.
The Pride festival needs to be planned earlier, with more transparency and with “a wider queer community,” Rosen says. “We think all voices should be heard. We’re just the ones affected by it now. The organizers of Pride have been doing this a really long time, and it’s time for other voices at the table.”