Sabbath-observant U of Maryland students receive diplomas in alternative ceremony

(JTA) — The University of Maryland hosted an alternative graduation to accommodate 22 observant Jewish students who could not receive their diplomas at the regular graduation, which took place on Shabbat.

The full university commencement was held on Sunday, May 21, but 19 of the university’s 34 individual colleges held their ceremonies the day before, according to Chabad.org.

The campus Chabad Jewish student center and campus Hillel requested that the administration hold an alternative ceremony on Sunday, to which the university agreed.

On Sunday afternoon in the atrium of the student union building, each student was called up by name and received his or her diploma from William Cohen, the associate provost and dean for undergraduate studies, who represented the university.

Paul Hamburger, a senior partner in the international law firm Proskauer Rose LLP and a member of the Chabad on Campus international advisory board, made the commencement speech.

“This graduation ceremony is separate from and still a part of the University of Maryland graduation exercises,” he said. “It is a testament to how you can find a balance between your Jewish identity and your integration into the world at large.”

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