Letters to the editor
Published: Wednesday, January 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 31, 2002 at 5:38 p.m.
Respect for all religions
Some 40 years ago, as the song "Silent Night" rang out over the radio, a girl was truly experiencing a silent night.
Before this day the girl sang and played her flute in the Christmas concerts at school. She made ornaments and decorated the class tree. She even sang Christmas carols in the neighborhood with her Girl Scout troop.
But on this day, the holiest day of all, her world was as silent. She knew a lot about the day that Jesus was born. This day was a day the whole world was celebrating, except for the one house on Long Island that stood amid the festivities.
A neighbor or classmate would say, "But you're the lucky one." "Isn't Chanukah the holiday that you get presents for eight days?"
They didn't know anything else about Chanukah. They didn't know why it is celebrated, or why it is not celebrated in the same way as Christmas. The girl asked her parents one year if they could get a Chanukah bush. "There is no such thing" was the answer.
And so while the street was lit with lights on every house, the girl's house was dark. The girl grew up feeling different and his day hurt more than on the others.
Today, courses are required at colleges on multicultural diversity. Those teaching the courses maintain that Jewish people are not among the minority populations.
However, they teach that acceptance of others and oneself is of the utmost importance. They teach that education about other cultures will foster respect for others.
But there are those who feel offended by this education and ask publicly, "Why not say Merry Christmas to all?" "Why not display the Ten Commandments and have prayers to Jesus at schools?"
One talk show host makes claims that his child is learning about the Jewish holidays at schools by making "ladles." He asks, "Why shouldn't there be displays of Baby Jesus in the manger at public facilities?"
That little girl of 40 years ago answers with a word - respect. Respect for others who believe differently, respect for the children who feel alone because others choose to be ignorant. Respect for the fact that there is more than one religion in America.
Don't deny religious freedom
In reference to Linda Jensen's letter on Dec. 25, we do have "freedom of religion." That is why I support a separation of church and state.
My religion is not the same as yours, and there are millions of others in the United States who don't share your beliefs. Why should your beliefs be shoved down our throats?
We have our rights also - or have you, with your ethocentric beliefs, forgotten that? It is you and persons such as yourself who are denying non-Christians our religious freedom by your continued missionary harassment.
Why is it that Jews or any non-Christians are not given our holidays off with pay? We must take paid time off to observe them.
Jewish children in public schools and universities aren't given time off from classes to observe sacred days unless the school is given a note from their rabbi that they will be observing those days and then all schoolwork must be made up.
Do your children need such a letter as proof of observance for your holidays? Must they make up their school work?
And to get off work early on Friday afternoon to prepare for Shabbat (Sabbath) is unheard of. Now, who is being denied religious freedom?
Freedom of religion allows each of us to worship as we choose, not as Christians want us to worship. Please stop your attempts to convert others; if we wanted to believe in your savior, we would join on a voluntary basis.
Religion is to be taught in the home, synagogues, mosques and churches, not reinforced in government schools.
If you want to worship at work or at school, do it on your own time. Don't force or expect the world to believe as you do, and most of all, quit berating us because we don't adhere to your beliefs.
Don't try to make Christianity appear as the victim in this case. Freedom of religion is being practiced, just not the way that Jensen wants it to be.
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