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Jews' Objections to School's Spring Rites

April 15, 1993

I read the article about El Rincon Elementary and was outraged and embarrassed. I am the mother of a second-grader at that school. And, yes, we are Jewish. I chose a public school because I want my child to grow up not only aware that we are just one part of a gigantic melting pot, but that our lives are enriched by our exposure and understanding of other cultures' traditions. Most importantly, I want her to learn to respect other people, even though our beliefs may be different. Certainly, as Jews, we have learned through decades of painful, horrifying experience just show dangerous intolerance and lack of respect can be!

If these parents feel so strongly about this issue, why seek this publicity anonymously? Why not stand up, proudly, and state their concerns. Did they object to the Halloween carnival? Did they object to the exchange of valentines? And, have they shared these concerns with the teachers? As a parent, if I do not want my child to participate in an event, I always have options.

Every year, the children have benefited from the celebration of a wide variety of holidays at El Rincon--celebrations reflecting the exciting ethnic, cultural and religious diversity of the student population. If these "concerned yet anonymous" parents don't want that exposure, they have options, including a Jewish day school.

Last year, we as a community watched in horror as our city was torn apart as racial, ethnic, and cultural intolerance raised its oh-so-ugly head. What message are these parents sending to their children? My child fondly remembers the kindergarten parade. She remembers the surprise visit by Santa. She also remembers lighting the Hanukkah candles, singing Hebrew songs and sharing matzo with her classmates at Passover.

While I sincerely doubt that these "anonymous" parents represent the majority of Jewish parents at El Rincon, I hope the school and the staff will continue in their efforts to recognize all the groups represented in their classrooms. Rather than trying to point out differences that create a sense of separation, they are allowing our children to experience and understand that it is, in fact, a small world after all!

JAN BORNYASZ

Culver City

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