US Air Force held ‘Commandants Training Day’ on Yom Kippur: ‘Mistake that won’t happen again’

Jewish graduate of Air Force academy says administrators knew about scheduling conflict for weeks beforehand.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

The United States Air Force Academy released a statement acknowledging that it had made a “mistake” by scheduling a mandatory training event on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews, but stopped short of issuing a full apology.

The academy scheduled its annual “Commandants Training Day,” also known by the name as the “Commandants Challenge,” for October 5th this year, which coincided with Yom Kippur.

According to media reports, the event serves as a critical opportunity for cadets to advance their careers and impress their superiors, and skipping the day could have potential long-term consequences for a student’s military career.

Observant Jews do not eat, drink, write, or use electronics for the 25 hour-long holy day. Yom Kippur is traditionally a time in which Jews engage in serious prayer, reflection and atonement for one’s sins in the past year.

“The U.S. Air Force Academy recognizes the importance of the holy days of all faiths. A training event was unintentionally scheduled this week during the Jewish observance of Yom Kippur,” Lieutenant Colonel Brian Maguire, the academy’s public affairs director, said in a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).

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“The Academy’s Academic Year Calendar is developed and maintained through an institutional process that includes input on faith considerations of the cadets,” he continued. “We will correct our processes to ensure this, and mistakes like this, do not happen again.”

Maguire added that “religious accommodations were planned and made available to all Jewish cadets wishing to observe Yom Kippur.”

However, one Jewish graduate of the academy challenged Maguire’s version of events.

Mikey Weinstein told JTA that numerous Jewish students and staff members had repeatedly informed the institution about the scheduling clash, yet the academy had failed to take action.

“All anyone had to do was to Google ‘Yom Kippur 2022’ and the dates would have happily popped up on pretty much any computer screen on this planet,” Weinstein added.