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Spreading the Good News

Wednesday, 15 February 2006

Since I’ve already mentioned that I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, I won’t go into detail. Feel free to read about the origins of the holiday and draw your own conclusion as to why Frume Sarah might have an objection. PC is out-of-town and it didn’t phase me at all. He gave me a card. I gave him a card. But if there had been no exchange of cards that would have been OK too.

Beernut brought home a bag filled with valentines, candy, stickers, and other chazzerai. It was not a mandatory event. Kids were given the option whether to distribute valentines or not. The only guideline was that the valentines were not to be addressed to the classmates. The teacher explained that in order not to take out too much time from the lessons, distribution would go more rapidly if the room moms could just put the valentines into the bags without worrying about which one belonged to which kid. OK — so not the most meaningful valentine exchange in the world, but I appreciate the teacher not wanting to waste classroom time on this.

Beernut was so excited to go through his goodies. There were stickers, notepads, pencils, and candy. And he shared commentary on either the classmate or the particular valentine as we made our way through the loot.

“Scooby Doo! I love Scooby Doo.” “Oooo…Spiderman. He is so cool.” “Nicole is so nice.” “Sponge Bob…he is my favourite” [OK, we’ve never watched Sponge Bob in our house. How did he fall in love with that yellow sponge?]. “Cool basketball one.”

Except, silly little unathletic boy, it’s a soccer ball not a basketball. And it says “God’s Love. The Ultimate. John 3:16. Established in the beginning.” On the back, it has the John 3:16 quote. The first part of the quote, that is. [For those who are unfamiliar with this particular quote, I encourage you to take a look the next time you stay overnight in a hotel.]

I don’t subscribe to this theology. Beernut doesn’t. Our family doesn’t. I am not making a judgement statement about this theology. Just acknowledging that it is someone else’s and not ours. And though I know that spreading the good news (this is the definition of “gospel” after all!) is a key tenet of the Christian faith, it blows my mind that any parent would think that a valentine with a strong theological message is an appropriate one to pass out to a bunch of five and six year old children — in a public school!

Do I say something to the teacher? The room moms? The principal? Do I place a call to the ADL? Is this a battle worth fighting? Is this the price I must pay for sending my son to public school?

At what point do we just sit back and try to blend in with the majority culture? We believe strongly in the public school system, and feel fortunate to live in an area filled with superior school districts. Learning to be a part of the larger community and how to reconcile one’s Judaism with the host culture are important life skills. We expect Beernut and Poppyseed to live in America (though they are mostly free to make their own choices!) so it will be imperative for them to know how to live as Jews in a Christian majority.

That being said, I am just left with a bad taste in my mouth.

I knew I didn’t like this holiday!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. gwheathie permalink
    Wednesday, 15 February 2006 2:35 pm

    You MUST talk to the teacher about it. Is it possible that she distributed the John 3:16 quote accidentally? If not, then she has to know that this is intolerable.

  2. PepGiraffe permalink
    Friday, 17 February 2006 3:17 pm

    If I remember how we did it, the cards were in envelopes. How would the teacher know? I have no advice, though. I would say something to the teacher, I guess, but only as a concern and not with an expectation that something would happen. I would, as golfers say, make it a mulligan. And I don’t know why anyone would think this is appropriate.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    Saturday, 18 February 2006 12:29 am

    you could say something to the school, but its most likely that they arent going to do anything. the kids werent able to put their names on the valentine grams anyways so whats the point of having to single the poor little 6 year old. its something that beernut has to learn from, just like all other jewish children.

  4. Rivster permalink
    Tuesday, 21 February 2006 5:22 pm

    So I mentioned something to the teacher and though her initial response was a little discouraging, she did speak with the principal. I feel much better having brought it to their attention and will most likely schedule a little chat with our principal next January just to make certain that families are reminded to send appropriate valentines to their classmates.

  5. Anonymous permalink
    Saturday, 25 February 2006 4:59 am

    im glad that the talk you had with the teacher went well. ive never heard of a teacher saying “no you are wrong its ok to have parts of the bible in the classroom” so its good that the school is taking action 🙂

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