Year-round Santa in the library

Year-round Santa in the library

Where a Jewish community has dwindled too much to be taken seriously, it’s taken the ADL’s Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin to right a wrong.

Since last December, I’ve been trying to address imbalances in the troubled Palisades Park Public Library. The library grounds featured permanent ornamental Xmas trees, until a Jewish VFW member stepped in to help me. The trees are now gone.

Currently, the children’s library wall features what is believed to be the first permanent mural of Santa Claus and a Xmas tree in a New Jersey public library. Perhaps the most offensive item was the mounted plaque that listed religious books as comprising several categories of Christianity. There was one exception: Non-Christian Religions. In Palisades Park, we are “non-Christians.”

The religiously non-diverse library staff and board dismissed or ignored the concerns of this taxpayer to change anything. The Library Association of New Jersey did not see anything wrong with the Religion sign.

But when Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin, then director of the ADL’s New Jersey office, stepped in, the Palisades Park Library replaced the plaque. As of this month, the new sign for religious books just says “Religion,” accompanied by the Dewey Decimal number 200. Gee, almost like other libraries.

This may not have been the ADL’s most important achievement, but it changed one insensitive small town.

Best wishes to Rabbi Salkin in his new post at Temple Beth Am in Bayonne. (“Meet the community’s new pulpit rabbis,” August 16.)

(Now, onward, to deal with the Palisades Park double standard that says that Santa/ Xmas trees are secular and therefore okay for a permanent mural, but menorahs and dreidels are religious and are not okay for equal treatment. Is this what lawyer Nathan Lewin had in mind when Lynch v Donnelly was decided?)