Not This Mom
Upon discovering what I do for a living and that my two older children attend (a-hem) public school, a woman I had just met remarked, “Oh they must love you this time of year. You probably get asked to do Chanukah in all the classrooms.”
FrumeSarah: Nope. Never asked. And never done it.
Woman: Why not?
FrumeSarah: I don’t believe that religious holidays belong in the public schools.
Woman: But they do Christmas in the schools.
FrumeSarah: That’s not my problem.
Woman: And come on… (she says conspiratorially)…you have to admit that our miracle is a heck of a lot better than theirs.
FrumeSarah: That’s because I’m not Christian. Besides, you know fully well that the Christmas they are teaching in the public schools is the secularized version. And I certainly don’t want the public schools stripping my holiday of its religiosity.
Woman: You must have grown up somewhere else. I mean, what about Chanukah songs? There have to be Chanukah songs in the Holiday Pageants.
FrumeSarah: I grew up in the same district as my children and it so happens that I have always felt this way. They’re Christmas Pageants and a token Chanukah song isn’t going change that. Furthermore, Christmas music is beautiful and what we have to offer at this season doesn’t compare.
Woman: You know what your problem is? You know too much.
It’s true. I really don’t believe that religion belongs in the public schools. And teaching Chanukah simply reinforces the incorrect notion that Chanukah is the Jewish Christmas.
I suppose that it might make more sense for a Jewish parent to go into the classroom at Rosh HaShanah as that is a far more important holiday. However, I can report from personal experience, that having one’s parent visit the classroom, try to explain our calendar, and then blow on a smelly ram’s horn does absolutely nothing good for one’s social prospects. (Thanks, Dad.)
It’s hard enough following a ritual rhythm that is outside the cultural and religious norm. That last thing that I ever wanted is to draw even more attention to it. Not once have my kids ever asked for me to come to school and do a Chanukah presentation. They have asked over the years to send hamantachen to friends and teachers or bring gelt for “holiday” parties. And that we have done. But no presentations. No letter campaigns to the school board. Because I really do believe that religion should be taught in the home and in the religious institutions. Not in public elementary schools.
And so…I said nothing. Because the several things that came to mind were just not nice. Perhaps I should have just said:
Lady, do you happen to read Frume Sarah’s World? Because you’re gonna be featured on it later today.