kindergartenLike lots of Jew­ish par­ents, my hus­band and I grap­pled with whether to keep our kids in a synagogue-run school or go pub­lic. We made the deci­sion to try pub­lic kinder­garten after mov­ing to an area where the near­est syn­a­gogue school was about half an hour away.

There were times that we wor­ried our daugh­ters would feel iso­lated in a school where most cel­e­brate Christ­mas. Luck­ily, this is not the case. Instead some­thing amaz­ing occurred.

One of our daugh­ters came home yes­ter­day and told me that her teacher asked if she could tell the class about Chanukah. She danced around the table while her voice rose to a deaf­en­ing shrill that only par­ents of young chil­dren tolerate,

“Mommy, will you come help me teach the class about Chanukah?!?”

I agreed and later emailed her teacher. I offered to accom­pany our daugh­ter and bring some sym­bols of Chanukah like a meno­rah, a book, a stuffed ani­mal that plays tra­di­tional Jew­ish songs and a Star of David.

To my surprise, her teacher was not only wildly sup­port­ive but informed me that the class is mak­ing a “Hol­i­days Around the World” book. She said the class is learn­ing about a dif­fer­ent coun­try each day and has chil­drens books on many reli­gious hol­i­days. She even added that the class has reserved one day to cook latkas, make paper meno­rahs and play the drei­del game. She invited our fam­ily to visit and give a joint pre­sen­ta­tion on Chanukah along with our daughter.

Our other daughter’s kinder­garten teacher emailed with the same sen­ti­ment. Her class is also cel­e­brat­ing “Hol­i­days Around the World” and she men­tioned that she just read her class The Only One Club by Jane Nal­i­boff (Flash­light Press, 2004). This book is a great asset to anyone’s library as it teaches kids that every­one is unique in some way. While it opens with a Jew­ish girl who starts “The Only One Club” after learn­ing she’s the only Jew­ish kid in her class, she quick­ly real­izes that each stu­dent has a unique trait that qual­i­fies them admit­tance into the same club. While this book is avail­able on Amazon.com, I was sur­prised our daughter’s teacher had a copy since  received mine from The PJ Library, a com­pany ded­i­cated to Jew­ish Children’s books.

Still, I am astounded at how multi-cultural Kinder­garten has become. Wouldn’t it be nice if all coun­tries in the world respected other coun­tries’ reli­gious prac­tices? But we know they don’t. In fact, we know many Mus­lim coun­tries teach their kids to hate Jews and Israelis at a remark­ably young age. I have blogged about Mid­dle East­ern tele­vi­sion shows using a faux Mickey Mouse to instill hatred against Jews and Israelis. This is just another sad exam­ple of how many Islamic coun­tries turn our cul­ture against us.

It would be a huge relief if we didn’t have to worry about ongo­ing ter­ror­ism in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Dar­fur, Indone­sia, Iraq, Kuwait, Kur­dis­tan, Lebanon, Pak­istan, the Philip­pines, Rus­sia, Soma­lia, Syria and Turkey. But we do. We also have to ago­nize over occa­sional attacks in Europe and the US. No coun­try is immune. In fact, we’re now real­iz­ing that the threat from within is stronger than we estimated. The recent ter­ror­ist attack at Ft. Hood, the largest mil­i­tary base in the US, is just another exam­ple of home­grown jihadists.

Daily sight­ings of ter­ror­ism, anti­semitism and hate mon­gers only fuel a future that looks bleak. So what can we do? Well, one thing we can do is stop teach­ing hate. After see­ing this video yes­ter­day, I won­dered how this man could call him­self Chris­t­ian (or for that mat­ter char­i­ta­ble). From what I can see, he hates his Jew­ish neighbors. His hatred seems oddly mis­placed and a tad ironic since Jesus was a Jew.

Know­ing our daugh­ters are in classes that show appre­ci­a­tion for world reli­gions goes a long way. Unlike kids that are smoth­ered by hate and pro­pa­ganda at an early age, I see hope when I gaze into our daugh­ters’ eyes. I dream of a day where every land can live in peace. When every coun­try can end civil war and take a cue from these kindergarteners.

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