Jewish World Review May 10, 2001 / 17 Iyar, 5761
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- LET me tell you a story about my days at the Rodeph Sholom Day School.
When I was in first grade, my mom would draw a whale on my brown paper lunch bag - a reference to the fact that my name is Jonah (my brother Josh got a trumpet). It was a cute little whale. It had a water spout coming out of its back and a smile on its face.
When I got to school, I would put my lunch bag with all the others in a corner of the room. At lunchtime, designated kids distributed the bags and lunchboxes to their rightful owners. Everyone knew mine was the one with the whale on it. The other kids thought it was cool and so did I.
And that was a problem.
The school called my mom in for a meeting and asked her if she could please stop putting the whale on my lunch bag because it was unfair to kids with less pictogram-friendly names. Sure, the little Irvings and Bens could have drawings on their bags too, but a little froggy would have so much less meaning for them than my whale did for me.
Momma Goldberg quickly weighed the pros and cons of the situation and immediately responded, "The Goldberg family whale policy shall continue. Tell the other kids to get over it."
Well, it now looks like Rodeph Sholom has finally gotten some payback. They've canceled Mother's Day. Andrea Peyser of the New York Post reports that last Friday Rodeph Sholom's munchkins came home with an unusual note for their parents.
"I am writing this letter to inform you that after much thought and discussion this past year, we will not be celebrating Mother's Day and Father's Day," wrote Cindi Samson, director of the school's lower elementary division.
"At this time, these holidays are not needed to enhance our writing and arts programs," the letter continued. "Second, families in our society are now diverse and varied." This means Shlomo might have two Daddies and Rachel might have two Mommies, Samson explained to the Post.
The letter went on: "Holidays that serve no educational purpose and are not vital to the children's education need to be evaluated …as the recognition of these holidays in a social setting may not be a positive experience for all children."
Twenty-five years ago, it was unfair that my mom put a little whale on my lunch bag. Today, it's unfair to have a mom at all.
Rodeph Sholom is a liberal and increasingly expensive reform-Jewish day school (it now costs $15,000 for pre-kindergarten and up to $20K for sixth grade - a lot more than when I was a kid, including inflation.
The parents are overwhelmingly Upper West Side Manhattan Jewish liberals. In other words, this is the place where they implant the lifelong microchip that forces you to take everything The New York Times says at face value (my Dad had mine removed).
But even for the Upper West Side, this is a farce. As Peyser notes, whatever happened to the solidly Jewish biblical imperative to "honor thy father and mother"?
More important, this exposes much of what's wrong not only with a certain brand of Jewish liberalism, but also with self-esteem secularism generally. These days it seems everyone agrees that the majority owes the minority tolerance, but it's thought to be a bizarre suggestion that minorities should owe anybody anything.
For example, some ACLU liberals argue that any "exclusionary" majority-religious public activity is inherently immoral. They say Christians shouldn't "impose" their religion on others. I agree. But secular humanists, atheists and religious minorities shouldn't impose their anti-majority prejudices on everybody else either.
The same analogy holds true for gays. Why ruin Mother's Day for everyone else?
Besides, no one's doing the children of gay and lesbian couples any favors by teaching them that Mother's Day is a mean, non-inclusive holiday. (We all know it's an innocuous scheme hatched by the international greeting-card cartel.) Their self-esteem may suffer microscopically as they watch other kids draw cards for their mommies. But, understanding they are different from the majority is a lesson they're going to have to learn no matter what, so why not learn it in a caring environment?
Just as Jewish kids do far better in life when they have a healthy respect for Christianity, homosexuals and their children would be well-served if they showed a little respect, too. Denying Mother's Day will not change the fact that most people have mothers. And if that hurts some kids' self-esteem, as Momma Goldberg would say, "Get over