Back in 2004, when Sam was in kindergarten, this issue of the PTA newsletter almost caused me a coronary. You see, I have no problem with Santa, reindeer, elves, trees, and whathaveyou. I do have a problem with clipart of the Holy family in a public school newsletter. My call to the principal to discuss my concern was an odd one, to say the least. One of the more classic lines from Mr. H was, "But what do I tell the Wiccans?" Cause you know, us Jews know how to handle those rowdy Wiccans. He was also surprised that I didn't know that the Christmas Show (official title) was 'inclusive'--apparently it did deal with other December holidays and I was supposed to know this by osmosis.
Each year I've had to ask the teacher to please call the party a Holiday Party instead of Christmas Party (and Spring Party instead of Easter Party). I've had to explain why I'm taking my kid out of school to attend High Holy Day services, or why scheduling a mandatory parent meeting on Rosh Hashana is a bad idea. It feels like banging my head against the wall.
I found the newsletter in Sam's bag last night. I held my breath, wondering if I'd find Jesus in there. It was with great relief when I flipped through it all and not only found nothing to be offended by, but to even excited that the menorah clip art was included. I felt included, which has been my whole point these past few years. I'm not sure the principal and staff totally get it yet. But I think we're getting somewhere.
***For the record, I am not looking for 'equal time' in exposing my religion to the other students. I believe that religious iconography has no place in a public school. The reality of my location is that it is going to be a long time before this school is anything like a school in NYC as far as this issue is concerned. And I'm pleased to have opened some eyes about the diversity that is in our school, even in small doses. I've been invited by both Maya and Sam's teachers to come read a book about Chanukah to the class, and I was asked by Maya's preschool teacher last year (on the same campus). I'm looking forward to sharing with these children, most of whom probably have no idea that there are some people in the world who are not Christian.