Students from Russian descent and who learn at a Tel Aviv high school are up in a arms over their principal’s threat to suspend them from school for insisting on wearing Santa Claus hats to mark the end of the secular year and the beginning of 2014.
The Ministry of Education denied that the principal suspended one of the students who refused to obey the order, the Hebrew-language Yediot Acharonot newspaper reported.
Santa Claus is associated with Christmas, but the students said they have a tradition of coming to school on December 31 with Santa Claus hats.
The Education Ministry explained that the principal simply was enforcing a nationwide policy that students wear the same style of clothes and appear properly dressed in class. It said that the students could dress as they please during recess, even if they want to put on Santa Claus hats.
There are an estimated 300,000 former Soviet bloc immigrants who are not Jewish and are living in Israel, thanks to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who was anxious to boost the non-Arab population at all costs, especially at the cost of a Jewish state.
Whether or not the students at the Tel Aviv school are Jewish or not, they obviously have little Jewish identity.
“I have learned in this school since the seventh grade, and every December 31 we arrive with Santa Claus hats to commemorate the new year,” one girl said. “In previous years, we also arranged parties.”
And along comes a new principal who is a party pooper.
This it’s not a matter or religious or cultural coercion. It is a matter of ignorance.
“This very insulting,” said the girl. “I was born in Israel, and my mother was born in Russia. We are not talking about a political issue but a hat that symbolizes the beginning of the new year.”
A ninth-grader said, “I would expect the principal to identify with us or at least allow us to keep the custom. It does not disturb or damage anyone.”
Wouldn’t it be interesting if a bunch of Russian olim at the school were to come closer to Judaism and start wearing a kippa to class? I wonder how tolerant the other students would be. They would be as tolerant as my junior high school principal was in the 1950s, when I dared to put on a kippa when eating lunch in the cafeteria and organize a minyan for Grace after Meals. The principal hauled me into his office with a threat of suspension for the offense of wearing a hat in school, a no-no in those days.
Before people start throwing around the mis-used word “democracy,” Israel is a Jewish state. A large majority of Israeli Jews keep kosher, on one level or another. A large majority of Israeli Jews honor the Sabbath, even if they are not strictly observant.
An overwhelming of Israeli Jews, converts or not, know their roots start with the forefather Avraham. They know that Santa Claus is not just a funny looking character but rather a dangerous symbol of materialism that insults the character and values of Judaism.
The entire Santa Claus hat issue is an anecdote, even a funny anecdote, but it symbolizes the issue of a Jewish state.
There are those who are willing to sacrifice Judaism on the altar of “freedom” to do as one pleases so long as it is not a Haredi Jew wearing a shtreimel in a public park.
Illegal African immigrants have a right to stay in Israel. Bedouin men have a right to marry as many women as they want, with the government paying them for child support, as they proliferate to the point of reducing Jews to a minority.
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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