Working Hours and Jewish Observance

Hi all,

I’ve recently finished my MA and planning to emigrate to Taiwan in Feb 2024 to teach English.

I have recently converted to Judaism and I am observant of the festivals. What kind of problems could I encounter with asking for time off due to religious observance? Some festivals forbid work on their days, including the weekly Shabbat every Saturday (I know English classes on a Saturday can be a common thing). I do accept that if I had time off, it would be unpaid and is something I am fine with. In 1 year, there could be up to 12 days of observances spread throughout the year. Because Judaism has its own calendar, the dates change for the Gregorian calendar each year.

Realistically though, how would this limit my chances to securing employment? Would a big thing be made out of this with a recruitment agency or direct school? Would I be looked down upon as a teacher for requesting this time off?

Many thanks,

Looked down upon or looked down upon more? :idunno:


Maybe try establishing contacts here.

I would bet there are others in the international Jewish community that could guide you.



It would limit it, since everyone else’s working hours are not in sync with you.
in practical terms its not a big problem to solve, you just take annual leave or unpaid leave on friday afternoon and on holidays.
You will need to find a place that will be ok with it or have to worry about finding a sub yourself (i.e. will it be a problem for them to find a sub for you for every Friday afternoon/holiday).
Taiwan is not an easy place for observant jews, the community is very small, only 1 orthodox synagogue and hardly any kosher food.
I would think twice about coming here.

Well I can tell you from recent experience that trying to take personal leave during the semester is usually contractually discouraged and carries fines for each class period you are not present for. Substitute fee of something like 400-700 dollars per class period. You’ll be using your paid leave for this, although there’s a decent chance you’ll be the one paying because of the aforementioned substitute fee. Very real chance you’ll have to apply for permission to the headmaster of the school and/or the local government each and every time you want to take a day off during the semester. Saturday classes aren’t entirely uncommon, and happen nearly every time there’s a public holiday here. And the wild thing is that the principal and/or local government can deny you for any reason. They don’t think holding Shabbat is important? Sorry, you’re screwed. Not trying to discourage you too much, but that’s the way it is. I’m not supposed to take my leave during, you know, the biggest and very well known Christian holiday of Christmas, as that’s during the semester. Instead, I’m supposed to take my leave during Chinese New Year. Because that’s totally the same? It’s not the end of the world but my point is that if you’re really intent on taking those holidays and spending them in the way you feel the religion intends, might be hard.

But yeah, contact the Jewish cultural association, I’m sure someone there would have better insight than myself.

Yes. The school doesnt care why you arent there, they just care that you are in class.
If the OP had a jazz band, and would have to take every Friday evening off to play and 2 weeks a year to tour he would have the same problem.

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hell even if you don’t have class they can be obstinate about this shit. Taiwanese work culture definitely values you being there for all the office hours, even if you’re not going to be doing anything in any of those hours. Next week is all exams so I won’t be doing jack shit, but still can’t take leave.

Just be up front with your school. It’s possible that they just not schedule classes for Friday afternoons. For other holy days they might be able to work with you on it. Just bring it up in advance. Maybe have a list of days you’d need off and see if they are willing to accommodate.

I also second this. Taiwan is not such a accommodating place when it comes to different religions.

Yeah in one sense you can practice whatever religion here and no one is going to think about it for two seconds much less care. But interfering with scheduled work is not kosher :slight_smile:


Have you considered, Israel? A Swedish friend of mine did a few years there and really enjoyed it. He wasn’t even Jewish! You can probably make more money than here. I think he did IT work, but they bring in people for all sorts of stuff

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Most office posts do not give any vacation days the first year, only sick leave, emergency leave, etc. Vacation days start at one week the second year. That limits the amount of days you have to take off for religious reasons.

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Yes, but you can take unpaid leave if you need to.
There are for sure solutions, after all Jews manage careers all over the world.
As was mentioned above, bosses here dont care WHY you miss work, they just care that you DONT MISS WORK.

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In all of Taiwan, or all of Taipei?

All of Taiwan.

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You’ll probably be let go at the end of your contract as hiring someone else is less hassle than dealing with you.

Your religion is “your problem” by making it ‘their’ problem they will most likely deal with it by making it go away.

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