Friday, December 28, 2007
The Christmas Revolution by Barbara Cohen
Stars: ****1/2 This book was read for the Jewish Literature Challenge and the Christmas Theme Challenge because I couldn't get a hold of the books I originally chose. It is the story of Simeone, an Orthodox Jew who refuses to participate in his school's Christmas activities. He convinces Emily, a Jewish Girl who has always just gone along with the Christmas activities to not participate too, to make a stand. Sally, Emily's twin sister however, doesn't see anything wrong with doing the activities, even if they don't believe. However both the twins and Simeone are being treated poorly just because Emily and Simeone stand up for what they feel is right. When the school Christmas Tree is found tipped over, everyone blames Simeone. He may not celebrate Christmas and refuse to participate, but he wouldn't knock over the tree. How can they prove it? This book is a great story for Jewish Kids ages 8 and up. I remember in grade school, there was one kid who didn’t celebrate Christmas, although he wasn’t Jewish or Muslim. He chose to sit out in the hall and do other work while we did Christmas puzzles or arts and crafts or read Christmas books. He didn’t come to school for our Christmas party. A year or so later, our school was getting a little more diverse and they changed our morning announcements to include announcing other cultures celebrations and to do a prayer/greeting from a different culture each morning. The only thing we always did was O Canada. Trying to be politically correct is a big thing now, so much so that’s it’s been taken to a whole new level. First it was a Christmas Tree, then a Holiday Tree, now it’s a Winter tree. I think we need to find a happy medium. The fact is, the majority of people in our society do celebrate Christmas but we should also teach the history and basics of the other holidays that are celebrated. Not just Chanukkah but Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Yule and Diwali too. If someone of a different culture wants to participate in the activities of Christmas, we should let them. However we should never force them. This story was a good introduction to these issues that we adults deal with often in our society. This would be a good group read as it goes easily into a discussion. I can think of many questions I’d want to ask my kid’s after they read this. What would you have done if you were Emily? Do you think Simeone was going overboard or just standing up for his rights as he should have been. Do you think we should go to school separated by our religions? Would that solve the problem or just make us less tolerant? I could go on and on.
I definitely recommend this book, not just to kids, but adults too. I think our society needs to look at how we can be accepting of other cultures without overdoing it.