Responses Vary on Dropping of Christmas Programs from Public Schools

Varying responses were reported today in three Eastern seaboard area cities to Jewish requests for elimination of sectarian observances in public schools during the pre-Christmas period.

In Troy, N.Y., the Board of Education decided to adopt the policy urged by the Troy Jewish Community Council to drop observances of Jewish holidays in plays and pageants in Troy public schools. The board, however, left unchanged the traditional Christmas programs in the school. Children will be excused from participation or attendance at programs which conflict with their religious beliefs, the board announced.

In Hamden, Conn., David Wyllie, the school superintendent issued a directive calling for the de-emphasis of Christmas observances in Hamden public schools. The New Haven Jewish Community Council had requested that action, recommending generally the elimination of both Jewish and Christian religious celebrations.

In New Haven, that plea was ignored. School officials said Christmas will be observed in New Haven public schools “as it has been for the past 100 years.”

In River Edge, New Jersey, a town of 10,000 mostly non-Jewish, a nine-foot Menorah erected on the lawn of a Jewish family attracted praise both from non-Jews and the River Edge Lions club. The Lions Club lauded the display as helping to “improve Christian-Jewish relations” through education about Jewish religious customs.

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