In response to Robin Katz’s letter (“Year-round Santa in the library?”, August 23), I must say I find the issue most distressing. While it can often seem, particularly in Teaneck, that Jews are a majority population, we know that really we are a minority – admittedly a strong and heard one. It can often feel that the blanketing by the majority creates a feeling of being smothered. I experience a gut reaction when I see Christian-themed symbols in public places. I also find it oppressive when young children, with whom parents are working hard to establish group identification, are being bombarded by symbols of the other when doing typical and wonderful things like going to the library.
Perhaps there are others like me, who grew up going to New York City public schools in the 1950s and enduring assemblies when Christian prayers, including references were made to a “god” we Jewish children did not believe in, were read aloud. Ironically, although the teaching staff was mostly Christian, the overwhelming majority of the students were Jewish.
I don’t even understand the relevance of Santa Claus to a reading room in the first place. I think a painting of a classic character from literature – Peter Pan, Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland – would make much more sense and be appropriate for any child. For any non-Christian parents who visit that reading room for some moments of pleasure and wonder with their child, to have not only to explain what Santa is doing there, but then have to explain “why we don’t believe in Santa,” that adds an unwelcome and unpleasant burden that sadly diminishes the experience.