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December 17, 2015 5:11 pm

California Jewish Mom’s Complaint About School Outing to See Santa Causes Trip Cancellation, Anger Among Parents

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Following complaints from a Jewish parents, a public school in California cancelled a field trip to visit Santa Claus. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A child sitting on Santa’s lap. Following complaints from a Jewish parent, a public school in California cancelled a trip to see the Christmas icon. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Public school parents in San Jose, Calif. are sounding off on a Jewish mother after a complaint she lodged led to the cancellation of a Christmas-themed field trip, NBC reported on Wednesday.

As it has done for the past 10 years, the Sartorette Elementary School organized a trip for its kindergarten class to a local coffee shop — Big E Café –where the kids would drink hot chocolate and sit on Santa’s lap to ask for presents.

But Talia (last name withheld at her request), a Jewish teacher with a daughter in the class, did not want her 5-year-old to participate.

Talia told NBC that she is unhappy that Christianity is the focus of most of the school’s curriculum throughout December, giving the example of her daughter’s class writing letters to the North Pole and dressing up like reindeer.

Talia’s daughter is the only Jew in the kindergarten, but other kids in the class hail from different cultures, as well, Talia said.

“This is not a Jewish issue for me,” she said. “It’s an inclusion issue. We can’t spend five days on just one culture. That’s fostering intolerance. When Christmas is given the same time, or less time, than American holidays, like Veterans Day, then kids don’t feel as American.”

The Jewish mom voiced her concern in letters to the school, as well as at a Dec. 1 school board meeting and with the school superintendent. As a result of her efforts, the school decided to cancel the Santa outing.

Many parents upset about the decision unfriended Talia on Facebook. One even shouted at her on Wednesday: “You’re the one who started the war on Christmas,” NBC reported.

Joanne Tashiro, a fellow mother of a child at the school, accused Talia of trying to “scrub down our school and devoid it of any cultural teaching or tolerance.”

Tashiro and other parents are planning not to send their children to school on Friday — when the trip was supposed to take place — and go on their own to see Santa at the coffee shop. Big E Café owner Ernesto May said he thinks the children should be able to sit on Santa’s lap whether or not they celebrate the Christian holiday.

“What are they going to cancel next?” he asked. “I know she means well, but we can’t shield our children from everything. When is it going to stop?”

Charles Haynes, director of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute in Washington, DC, agreed that cancelling the field trip was the correct measure for the school to take.

“This assignment is inappropriate in a public school,” he told NBC. “What is legal is not always right. At the very least, this is ill advised. You shouldn’t have a holiday experience that privileges just one particular religion.”

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  • She must be best friends with Kyle’s mom.

    Wha wha what!

  • The Grynch

    There are at least two misunderstandings here. The American Constitution does not permit an ‘established’ relgion such as the Church of England, but the USA is just the same a ‘culturally’ Christian country, e.g. Sunday is the day of rest and Christian holidays are national holidays. The second misunderstanding is the difference between ‘religious’ observance and seasonal cultural customs. Communion is a religious sacrament. The ‘traditional’ image we have of Santa Claus was largely invented by Coca Cola and is no more deeply ‘religious’ than Valentine’s Day, and far less religious than All Souls Night or Halloween. January 1st IS religious in origin as Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus or the Feast of Sylvester. Should a Jewish parent therefore demand an end to Valentines, Halloween and New Years Eve?

  • Sherlock Holmes

    As an Orthodox Jewish teacher with 45 years experience I think for one Jewish mother to stop the class from a seasonal and innocuous outing is outrageous! No one worships Santa Claus and the biggest concern I can see is whether it is legal for Santa to have children sitting on his lap when most schools would not approve. Seasonal songs which do not declare Jesus to be the Incarnation are also not really a problem for Jewish pupis. Regarding equal time for Veterans’ Day this is hardly a kindergarten subject.

  • Terry

    Duh! For Pete’s sake, it’s Christmas! Geez!

  • Cathy

    I am a devout Christian, and as a family we do go to Church on Sundays every week. However, I do not want class time being taken up with the study of Hindu, Muslim, Jewish and Christian holidays. That is for a religious class in high school or 8th grade. School is suppose to be spent on reading, writing and math, and at the age of 5 kids are learning to read.

    If you want your kid to see Santa, then do as we do and have a relative dress up in a Santa costume ( they are not that expensive to buy) or if that is too much, go to the mall after school or on the weekend.

    Are parents now this lazy that they can’t get their kid to Santa and it has to be done on school time?

  • Marylou

    You came to America you don’t change what traditions Americans do and make them do and bend on your belief. DO WHAT AMERICANS DO! Otherwise go back to where you came from and practice your belief. You just rob the enjoyment and experience these kids should have enjoyed. Time that’s wasted will never come back. If you just went along with the tradition, majority, parents and kids, could have enjoyed the spirit of Christmas this year. Instead most of them will hate you and I hope they don’t include your kid plus your religion for many years to come.

    • Rebecca

      Marylou, Christmas is not what Americans do. Christmas is what Christians do. Not every American is Christian. And visiting Santa is a Christmas tradition. It has absolutely no place in a public school. You want your kid to go see Santa? Make it happen. But don’t expect your public school to make it happen for you.

    • Joseph Feld

      Marylou, you may recall that the Puritan settlers who largely founded the English colonies that later became the USA did not share your view. The Puritans actually banned Christmas as a pagan festival! That was in the 1600’s. The Christmas tree, a German pagan custom, came to England with Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg Gotha who married Queen Victoria. The genuine English Christmas custom of the Yule Log is almost unknown today. Santa Claus as known today was largely invented by New Yorker Thomas Nast, who died in 1902. Much of our images such as a white Christmas and much of our seasonal music is about winter rather than the Incarnation and should be enjoyed by all Americans.

  • Jane

    The fault lies with the school. As fun as it might be for some kids to sit on Santa’s lap and talk about what they want, this is part of a Christian holiday! The school should NOT have been running this event for the past 10 years. Talking to Santa should be done on family time, NOT school time. The separation of church and state is right there in the US Constitution. What is so hard for people to understand?

  • Brian

    Wow, It sounds like the school went out of their way to keep the Christian part out of the Christmas celebration.

    ‘Talia told NBC that she is unhappy that Christianity is the focus of most of the school’s curriculum throughout December, giving the example of her daughter’s class writing letters to the North Pole and dressing up like reindeer.’

    How freaking stupid is this lady? I must have missed the part in the bible where someone dressed like a reindeer and wrote letters to Santa…..

    Face it, this lady had a hard on to screw over ALL the kids in her child’s class and ruin a harmless tradition to further her personal liberal agenda.

    If you have an issue, why did you not volunteer to come in and discuss the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah with the class? No, you just wanted to shit on Christmas. you are like one of those Atheists who hate the fact that people put their faith in a higher being, and hate America for being founded by Christians (and yes people, America was founded by God Fearing Christian people, not Muslims, not Pagans, not Buddhists, not Jews). Better plan on changing schools soon, because your child will be branded as the kid of the Bitch that wrecked Christmas until they fraduate from high School.

  • Allan

    OMG, unfriended on Facebook – any torture but that! Just kidding. I’m a Jewish parent too. This woman needs to grow up, get some thicker skin and a life. It’s not a big deal. This country was founded on Judeo-Christian values. And I’d bet she’ll let her daughter sit in on grade school sex education when she’s in 4th or 5th grade, which is far worse than Santa Claus.

    • Flanders

      America was founded on Christian values. It is only in recent years that there has been an effort to join the two to make it appear as if they were joint, or rather to place the Judeo first. I appreciate that you are supportive of rational policies, but the Judeo portion is a recent addition in the historical sense, without foundation.

  • jm

    i am on other parents’ side… everyone has their right to observe traditions, if she has problem with “inclusion issue” she probably should send her child to Jewish school. that woman just made new enemies to Jews…