Wednesday, February 4, 2009

What's your opinion?

My son is learning about the Holocaust in 8th grade. I am glad. I really feel like this is an important lesson for the kids to learn. It was an awful chapter in our world’s history. We owe it to those affected to learn about it. I admire the Jewish people as a race and religion so much! I want my children to learn about their struggles and history.

That being said… I just don’t know what to think. My son brought home his folder the other day with the Star of David on it. He is required to “wear” this star on his folder or he has to be sent to a different room to work.

I like the idea – sort of. I have two concerns. First, isn’t the Star of David a sacred symbol for the Jewish people? Is it dishonoring their religion to display it and use it in this way? Second, there is a small part of me that is a little uncomfortable with my very Christian son carrying a symbol that declares the opposite of his beliefs. My beliefs.

I am curious what you all think. On one hand it is a fabulous lesson. History is smattered with people being exiled for their beliefs. What a poignant way to bring it home to an 8th grader.
On the other… well I just don’t know. I guess I am just a little uncomfortable.

Let me know what you think.

*** I LOVED reading everyone's opinion! There were such good points made. Thanks everyone who commented and got my brain turning. I love to see everyone's opinions here!***


Jillene said...

I think that I would feel the same way that you do. You would really hope that they are not being disrespectful to the Jewish religion. I also think I would struggle with being Christian and having him carry it around.

I agree that it is something that needs to be taught. My hubby's mom's family are from Holland. They survived the Hollucost and matter of fact his Opa (grandpa) was in a concentration camp for many years.

This is a hard one....I don't know exactly what I would do.

CJ, the Purple Diva said...

This site gives some good information about the Star and why the Jews were to wear it during the Hollucost.

As far as religion goes, being LDS and knowing that Christ was a Jew by decent, I don't feel it is a bad thing to be considered one of Christ's decendants.

To me the issue wouldn't be so much the "wearing it" for religious beliefs as it would be to what it symbolized to the Germans. I would have issue with my child being considered one of the "prisoners."

That's my two cents worth-for what it's worth!

Our Crazy Family said...

We just visited Yad Vashem, the holocaust museum, on our trip to Israel. I was so amazed at how ignorant I was about the holocaust. I'm glad he is learning about what happened to those people, and about the horrors committed during that war. It is amazing that the world allowed that to happen, and so many countries--and religious groups looked the other way. I'm not sure what I would feel about the star of David--but maybe they are just trying to teach them what it feels like to be singled out for your religion, and persecuted because of it. We need to make sure that our children are being taught about history so that it never happens again.

Erin said...

I had to do this in Jr High as well. We used something other than the star of David however. It was a great lesson and I am glad I had a chance to experience it. I guess they are hoping that the lessons being learned have more of an impact than the potential of someone being offended.

Bee and Rose said...

I am happy to hear that your school is actually teaching about the holocaust! Many schools are abandoning this lesson.

My family celebrates both faiths, Christianity and Judaism. My husband is Jewish, I am Christian. We make it work in our family with no problems.

How does your child feel about the lesson? Is it making him feel uncomfortable? I know that this lesson is taught to help children understand the devastating effects of persecution, but if it's making your child (or you) feel uneasy, maybe just sharing your feelings with the teacher may help ease things. Wish I could help!

heather said...

Yeah. I'm with you. Completely unsure.

Anonymous said...

great question, I have a Jewish friend, I am going to send her over here to comment about your question of the star of David... tI can totally see where you are coming from. wanting to respect a religion, making sure there isn't a cross over in boundaries,


Melisa with one S said...

Hi there! Stacy (Spasm) sent me over: I'm her Jewish friend. :)

I agree with you and the others that the Holocaust is definitely a lesson that MUST be taught. (and btw, Jews weren't the only ones affected: we were just the largest group) I have to say that on one hand I think it really drives the lesson home to have the kids "wear" the Star of David on their folder and feel uncomfortable about it, but at the same time I sort of feel that for non-Jews to have to "wear" a Star of David, it seems like that's just making them uncomfortable for the wrong reasons, because they're not Jewish in the first place. (BTW, it is a symbol of Judaism, but I don't personally think it's so sacred that it would be offensive to be used to teach this lesson. I don't think that is disrespectful.)

I can tell you that I understand your being uncomfortable with your "very Christian son" carrying the symbol of another religion, because I would never wear a cross. It doesn't mean that either one of us is a hater, it's just that we have our own beliefs. Nothing wrong with that: it makes the world interesting as long as there is tolerance. (which is the lesson, isn't it?)

I guess to sum up my opinion, I appreciate that the teachers are really trying to make a memorable lesson on something that everyone should know about ("We remember so it doesn't happen again") and I applaud their efforts in being creative with it. If nothing else, it got you (and, no doubt, other parents!) thinking and asking questions...which is ALWAYS a good thing. I agree with Bee and Rose: it might help to share your feelings with the teacher...

Have a great day! :)

Melisa with one S said...

Whoops, I meant StacEy. :)

blogismycopilot said...

I might be missing the point, but I think the object lesson is intended to cause some level of discomfort so that the tiniest amount of appreciation for the pain of persecution can be developed. Sometimes we learn life's greatest lessons when we are the most uncomfortable.

Becky said...

Hmmm. I'd be torn too. But maybe feeling awkward or uncomfortable is part of the whole idea.

S'mee said...

Jews and LDS people actually have more in common than we may think. We both hold strongly to the Old Testament, Abrahamic Covenant, teachings, temples, and many other doctrinal points. The more we learn about the world's religions the better we can secure our own beliefs, testimonies, and find the truths in these other religions. Truth is eternal and the thread that enables us to become effective missionaries or at least address concerns regarding misconceptions within our own practices, etc. This can help us better understand the phrases "Fullness of the Gospel" & "Authority" that we feel we have.

The Holocaust killed more Jews than any other group, however Jehovah's Witness, artists, scientists, free thinkers, homosexuals and other were also targeted. I wonder if the LDS were higher in numbers in Germany at that time, would they also have been targets?

In U.S. History we know that LDS people have been the only group given up to legal extermination via the order from Gov. Boggs. Being killed just for being "Mormon" was legal up until a few years ago. True, it didn't come to fruition, but it was a legal option. Amazing.

All over the world ethnic "cleansing" has taken place and continues today. I believe teaching what happened during Hitler's reign will help us try to keep it from happening -although it hasn't yet.

Wearing a Star of David and having one placed on a notebook are two different things. I think, as long as it is not mocked or defaced, it should be "o.k" and understood as a teaching tool by many Jews. I would bring this point up to my child, respect for others' religious symbols. How would he feel about someone with a photo of a temple on their notebook? What if it had been defaced or mocked? Respect.

I hope this helped.

wenderful said...

We visited Dachau many years ago and I was also struck by the enormity of it all. It's a very important lesson.
In my opinion the kids should carry around some sort of symbol but maybe not the actual Star of David.
Just a thought.
(Thanks for the kind comments.)

nikkicrumpet said...

I too am glad they are teaching about the Hollucost in schools many have abandoned it which makes me crazy. I don't think having your son carry the star on his folder is a bad thing at all. I think we should be able to celebrate the beauty of the worship of God in different religions. Even if we don't share the same faith. I would think teaching kids to respect the beliefs of others can't be a bad thing in any way. I love this gets us thinking.

CJ, the Purple Diva said...

I just read what S'mee said. I loved it! What did you decide? I'm going over to S'mee's now!