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Silver Spring, MD - Kippah Wearing Student Told to Prove Religion by Rabbi

Published on: February 1, 2012 06:35 PM
By:  Patch.com
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Silver Spring, MD - The parents of a Jewish student at Northwood High School are upset after the principal asked them to provide a letter from a rabbi justifying the kippah their son wore to school.

Last week Steven Tanenbaum’s 17-year-old son, Caleb, began coming to classes wearing a kippah sruga—a Jewish head covering that his mother had knitted for him.

When the administration told Caleb to remove the kippah, Caleb refused, saying that he wore it because he is Jewish, according to his father, Steven Tanenbaum. “He said, Call my mother. My mother made this for me,” Tanenbaum told Patch.

But even when his parents explained the situation, the principal asked for a letter of justification by Monday.

“Instead of saying that’s fine, the principal wanted a letter from a rabbi,” Tanenbaum said. “Our word was not good enough? We’re his parents!”

“At that point, I was really upset,” he added.

Caleb was born in Israel, according to his father, and lately the 17-year-old had decided to identify more with his roots by again wearing the traditional Jewish kippah, also known as yarmulke. The kippah, his father said, is a solid, off-white color with no symbols or markings—nothing that would identify it as gang-related.

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“All students are allowed to wear head wear according to their designated religion,” Principal Henry Johnson wrote in an email to Patch.  “Because our students are not allowed to wear hats and other head gear at school, students are asked for verification when their religious headwear is not traditional headwear that we are accustomed to seeing.”

The Tanenbaums asked Rabbi Shlomo Buxbaum, the director of Aish DC, to write the letter for the school, which included the following: “I just wanted to verify that the Tanenbaums are a practicing Jewish family who attend services and wearing the Kippah is an important part of our tradition. I ask you, in the spirit of religious acceptance, to allow him to wear his Kippah in the school.”

Buxbaum told Patch that he has never seen this happen before.

Content is provided courtesy of the Patch.com


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Read Comments (49)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Feb 01, 2012 at 06:58 PM ExpatriateOwl Says:

One hundred rabbis should send letters to the principal, with copies to each member of the school board. They should be sent via certified mail. And copies should be sent to the school board's attorney (who will, no doubt, bill for his time).

When the school officials find that letting the kid wear a kippah is less bureaucratically burdensome than placing obstacles to wearing the kippah, they will let Jewish kids wear their kippot without any further hassle.

2

 Feb 01, 2012 at 07:04 PM yaakov321 Says:

I suggest doing the "History of the World part 1" Verification. Remember Gregory Hines on the Ethiopian Shim Sham?

3

 Feb 01, 2012 at 07:19 PM Materetsky Says:

Kol hakavod to caleb, sad that u have to go through this but what a kiddush Hashem u are making by handling it so well.

4

 Feb 01, 2012 at 07:20 PM Anonymous Says:

The school system in Montgomery County and many other areas has a firm policy against any types of headwear. If Nat Lewin (who lives very close to the school in question) can argue before the Supreme Court without a yarmulke in deference to the court's rules, why should this bochur be any different? If he is that frum, go to the nearby Hebrew Academy or CES/JDS.

5

 Feb 01, 2012 at 07:35 PM victorg Says:

They probably don't get many requests like this - most kipah wearing kids are not in public school, so it is understandable they would be suspicious that the kid is just a rabble trousers

I wonder if the father wears one?

6

 Feb 01, 2012 at 07:11 PM enlightened-yid Says:

Dad said it's not a gang related kippah because it's solid white color. White color kippah belongs to the Reform and Nachman "gangs"; dad doesn't know his Jewish-gang color coding for kippahs. :)

7

 Feb 01, 2012 at 07:50 PM Normal Says:

This is a beat up story about nothing. The principal wanted a letter from the Rabbi, so, perhaps the parents could have agreed, instead of making a big fuss, and end of story. Instead everyone is now angry. Admitted the principal should have believed the parents, but some humulity doesn't goes astray.

8

 Feb 01, 2012 at 08:02 PM We live in Golus... Says:

... and it would behoove all of us to remember that. If a principal asks for a letter, it's probably best to just provide the letter, without a public scene.

9

 Feb 01, 2012 at 08:33 PM Mark Levin Says:

It seems to me he is BH a baal tshuva so its time for him to leave this school & go someplace frum.

Had I been the student I probably would have proved it to the principal right then & there... v'hamayvin yovin!!!

10

 Feb 01, 2012 at 08:39 PM somekid Says:

I think this is Hashems way of shaking the kid up so he realizes the thing he's wearing on his head is not just a cool thing his mother knitted for him but something that means more. Maybe this will get him to ask some questions and switch to a Jewish school.

11

 Feb 01, 2012 at 08:42 PM MeirYaakov Says:

Reply to #6  
enlightened-yid Says:

Dad said it's not a gang related kippah because it's solid white color. White color kippah belongs to the Reform and Nachman "gangs"; dad doesn't know his Jewish-gang color coding for kippahs. :)

How does someone from Silver Spring (the principal) not know what a kippah looks like?

12

 Feb 01, 2012 at 08:51 PM curious Says:

Okay, I am intimately involved in these kinds of situations. The principal is way off base. This principal needs to be severely disciplined.
In fact, one should not even have to identify with an organized religion in order to exercise their civil rights.

13

 Feb 01, 2012 at 09:07 PM Reb Yid Says:

What's the big deal to get a letter from a rabbi? If he needs to miss gym, for example, he'll have to get a doctor's note, they don't just take the parents' word for it. Why shouldn't it be the same here?

14

 Feb 01, 2012 at 09:17 PM Anonymous Says:

Religion in the US is voluntary and personal. If a person says "this hat is part of my religion, then it is".

My brothers wore kippot and tzitzit to public school. Our parents couldn't afford yeshiva. My husband and I still can't afford yeshiva and our children are homeschooled. If we could not homeschool, they would be in public school like the hundreds of other religious kids in our community including the children of some of the rabbis.
Maybe my siblings and I would have been better off if our parents had sent us away to Lakewood or Brooklyn. But maybe not since all of us are observant and with the exception of one of my nieces so are all our children, half of whom are now grown.

15

 Feb 01, 2012 at 10:18 PM JackC Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

The school system in Montgomery County and many other areas has a firm policy against any types of headwear. If Nat Lewin (who lives very close to the school in question) can argue before the Supreme Court without a yarmulke in deference to the court's rules, why should this bochur be any different? If he is that frum, go to the nearby Hebrew Academy or CES/JDS.

He shouldn't. The Court should give a religious exemption.

16

 Feb 01, 2012 at 10:20 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Mark Levin Says:

It seems to me he is BH a baal tshuva so its time for him to leave this school & go someplace frum.

Had I been the student I probably would have proved it to the principal right then & there... v'hamayvin yovin!!!

Your stupid "wink and nod" (aka v'hamavin yovin") comments suggesting you would have "proven it" to the principal confirm my long-standing suspicion you are some type of hapless yid who sits around on his computer all day making believe he is some big-time right wing warrior. Anyone who would suggest turning this issue into a physical confrontation is really in need of professional help or anger management classes.

17

 Feb 01, 2012 at 10:21 PM JackC Says:

Reply to #8  
We live in Golus... Says:

... and it would behoove all of us to remember that. If a principal asks for a letter, it's probably best to just provide the letter, without a public scene.

Nonsense. Once he asserts that he is Jewish and this is part of his religious observance or obligation there is no legal ground for demanding that a rabbi verify this. Would a "Messianic Rabbi" be good enough? KKK? Who will validate the Pope wearing a skullcap?

18

 Feb 01, 2012 at 10:23 PM galicianer Says:

The principal should be asked to provide proof of his qualification as an educator

19

 Feb 01, 2012 at 10:45 PM gtizuger Says:

Reply to #6  
enlightened-yid Says:

Dad said it's not a gang related kippah because it's solid white color. White color kippah belongs to the Reform and Nachman "gangs"; dad doesn't know his Jewish-gang color coding for kippahs. :)

White color kippah belongs to the Reform and Nachman "gangs";
How dare you say that, not mentioning all of jerusalem that wear white kippot. there are so many normal people that wear kippot that aren't black. Is that the way you want our kids to be brought up that somebody with a white color kippah is reform or part of some gang?????

20

 Feb 01, 2012 at 10:52 PM anyview Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

The school system in Montgomery County and many other areas has a firm policy against any types of headwear. If Nat Lewin (who lives very close to the school in question) can argue before the Supreme Court without a yarmulke in deference to the court's rules, why should this bochur be any different? If he is that frum, go to the nearby Hebrew Academy or CES/JDS.

Sugget you review the Free exercise clause of the Constitution's first amendment. Also, Caleb is not bound by religious decisions made by Nat Lewin.

what surprises me hee is that a kippah is "not traditional headwear that we are accustomed to seeing" in Maryland, which has a large Jewish community.

21

 Feb 01, 2012 at 11:34 PM Yoilish Says:

I'm pretty sure that this is the law in most public schools across the US. I know that this is definitely the policy NYC. There is no exception to the rule and I'm not sure why these people are appalled.

22

 Feb 01, 2012 at 11:46 PM Mark Levin Says:

Reply to #16  
Anonymous Says:

Your stupid "wink and nod" (aka v'hamavin yovin") comments suggesting you would have "proven it" to the principal confirm my long-standing suspicion you are some type of hapless yid who sits around on his computer all day making believe he is some big-time right wing warrior. Anyone who would suggest turning this issue into a physical confrontation is really in need of professional help or anger management classes.

Oy poor bubeleh got upset about something. Poor you.


BTW who said there was going to be anything "physical" between myself, if I was the student, and the principal??? Chas V'sholom!!!


Now go back into hibernation.

23

 Feb 02, 2012 at 12:01 AM shmiell Says:

The Principal is way off base; if it were a Moslem student wearing headgear, he'd have his pants sued off.
When I was a kid I spent several years in public school, and after my bar-mitzva wanted to stop being maikil to go w/out a kappel. I wore a baseball cap in the halls so that I wouldn't go 4 amos uncovered, and took it off when I sat down. The kids and teachers gave me a lot of grief about it until the principal realized why I was doing it and called me in. He gave me a whole "shmuess" about how the exemplary race relations in the school were a source of pride for them, and encouraged me to wear a yarmulke. He understood why I would be hesitant, and told me "if anyone gives you any trouble, you just come to me". (The fact that he was a 6 foot 4 200+lb linebacker-built African-American who all the kids were terrified of made the offer seem pretty reliable!) I switched to a yarmulke, and from that point on the kids and the teachers never said another word, and were quite respectful about it.
If the principal here would use some of his educational training and common sense, he would see that the boy is sincere and just let it go.
Hopefully, he'll move on to yeshiva, as I did.

24

 Feb 02, 2012 at 12:15 AM shmiell Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

The school system in Montgomery County and many other areas has a firm policy against any types of headwear. If Nat Lewin (who lives very close to the school in question) can argue before the Supreme Court without a yarmulke in deference to the court's rules, why should this bochur be any different? If he is that frum, go to the nearby Hebrew Academy or CES/JDS.

Nat Lewin belongs to an older generation, when almost no one wore a yarmulke in the workplace. Considering the state of yiddishkeit in America at that time, it is not surprising; he had plenty of mesirus nefesh just to keep Shabbos. In those days, people were maikil (with or without poskim) with the yarmulke and used their kochos to keep Shabbos, so that's what he's used to. In many countries where there is not a strong vibrant visible frum community it's the same. It's the same story with beards. Nowadays, when there is a much stronger frum community, we don't need to rely on the kulos anymore. Yes, the older folks will still rely on the leniencies because that's what they are used to, and we should be in awe of their tenacity in resisting the pressure 50 years ago regarding Shabbos in the workplace. We have to stand up to our own nisyonos; if someone nowadays would give in on the yarmulke, I don't think that they would have made it as a frum yid in the workplace vis-a-vis Shabbos etc. 50 years ago. So you can't compare the two scenarios.

25

 Feb 02, 2012 at 12:22 AM Shocked at your emptiness Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

The school system in Montgomery County and many other areas has a firm policy against any types of headwear. If Nat Lewin (who lives very close to the school in question) can argue before the Supreme Court without a yarmulke in deference to the court's rules, why should this bochur be any different? If he is that frum, go to the nearby Hebrew Academy or CES/JDS.

....and who is it exactly that died and left you boss??

26

 Feb 02, 2012 at 12:27 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #20  
anyview Says:

Sugget you review the Free exercise clause of the Constitution's first amendment. Also, Caleb is not bound by religious decisions made by Nat Lewin.

what surprises me hee is that a kippah is "not traditional headwear that we are accustomed to seeing" in Maryland, which has a large Jewish community.

The school district can enact any decisions on dress codes it wants. If some kid comes in and claims his turban is a religious obligation, or another claims carrying a dagger (as some Sikhs do) is also a religous right the school board can kick them out of school.

27

 Feb 02, 2012 at 07:22 AM DonielS Says:

Reply to #24  
shmiell Says:

Nat Lewin belongs to an older generation, when almost no one wore a yarmulke in the workplace. Considering the state of yiddishkeit in America at that time, it is not surprising; he had plenty of mesirus nefesh just to keep Shabbos. In those days, people were maikil (with or without poskim) with the yarmulke and used their kochos to keep Shabbos, so that's what he's used to. In many countries where there is not a strong vibrant visible frum community it's the same. It's the same story with beards. Nowadays, when there is a much stronger frum community, we don't need to rely on the kulos anymore. Yes, the older folks will still rely on the leniencies because that's what they are used to, and we should be in awe of their tenacity in resisting the pressure 50 years ago regarding Shabbos in the workplace. We have to stand up to our own nisyonos; if someone nowadays would give in on the yarmulke, I don't think that they would have made it as a frum yid in the workplace vis-a-vis Shabbos etc. 50 years ago. So you can't compare the two scenarios.

Let's put the record straight:

It's ossur to walk 4 Amos outside w/o a head covering. Indoors there is no such requirement unless one is learning Torah or davening/saying brachot. Wearing a Kippa all the time is the chumra according to many Poskim.

It's ossur to shave one's beard with a razor. Shaving any other way is allowed. Having a beard is the chumra.

Once the hippies arrived on the scene and wore whatever they liked, the Yidden also decided to look more Jewish. Good for us! But that does not change Halacha.

28

 Feb 02, 2012 at 07:50 AM esq Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

The school system in Montgomery County and many other areas has a firm policy against any types of headwear. If Nat Lewin (who lives very close to the school in question) can argue before the Supreme Court without a yarmulke in deference to the court's rules, why should this bochur be any different? If he is that frum, go to the nearby Hebrew Academy or CES/JDS.

he is permited t wear his kippah under first amendment. why should he not exercise his first amendment rigts

29

 Feb 02, 2012 at 10:53 AM AP Says:

The principal asked for a letter of justification from a rabbi.
To justify what?
a) That jews actually wear yarmulkas - was the principal born yesterday?
b) That the boy is actually jewish - isn't this based on lineage and the parents say so?
c) That the boy is religious - isn't this determined by every individuals state of mind?

I think the parents should demand a letter of justification from the principal as to his credentials of supervising educators. The principal's demand was totally brainless and downright wrong.

30

 Feb 02, 2012 at 11:15 AM Aryeh Says:

According to law, if a citizen wants to wear a spaghetti strainer on her head as part of an homage to the 'flying spaghetti monster' religion, she has every right to the exercise of her religion. The school should be sued.

31

 Feb 02, 2012 at 11:18 AM Ahavas Yisroel Says:

Some of the comments are very helpful and on target. However it's hard not to notice the anger and negative tone of some of the posters. We are all in the same boat dealing with issues that Yidden had to deal with over the centuries. We are in Galus and surrounded by suspicion and worse. Let us, as fellow travelers in a hostile word, have some compassion for our brothers and sisters. Let us try to love one another rather than spew barbs at one another. In that zchus may we merit the coming of Moshiach B' mheira Byamaynu.

32

 Feb 02, 2012 at 12:17 PM qazxc Says:

Reply to #10  
somekid Says:

I think this is Hashems way of shaking the kid up so he realizes the thing he's wearing on his head is not just a cool thing his mother knitted for him but something that means more. Maybe this will get him to ask some questions and switch to a Jewish school.

Another of Gd's accountants, here to explain His cheshbonos to VIN readers.

33

 Feb 02, 2012 at 04:43 PM concerned_Jew Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

The school system in Montgomery County and many other areas has a firm policy against any types of headwear. If Nat Lewin (who lives very close to the school in question) can argue before the Supreme Court without a yarmulke in deference to the court's rules, why should this bochur be any different? If he is that frum, go to the nearby Hebrew Academy or CES/JDS.

The kid has a right to wear the kippa. GET OVER IT and stop being so ashamed of your Heritage. G-d almighty, know wonder we are still in Golus. BE PROUD TO BE A JEW and recognize the amazing courage that this kid has.

34

 Feb 02, 2012 at 04:17 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #29  
AP Says:

The principal asked for a letter of justification from a rabbi.
To justify what?
a) That jews actually wear yarmulkas - was the principal born yesterday?
b) That the boy is actually jewish - isn't this based on lineage and the parents say so?
c) That the boy is religious - isn't this determined by every individuals state of mind?

I think the parents should demand a letter of justification from the principal as to his credentials of supervising educators. The principal's demand was totally brainless and downright wrong.

Very well stated.
Principal Henry Johnson claimed that "students are asked for verification when their religious headwear is not traditional headwear that we are accustomed to seeing.”
Seriously?? In 2012...Silver Spring, Maryland!
It is very difficult to believe that Mr. Johnson was not familiar with, or accustomed to seeing a kippah.
Principal Henry Johnson needs some immediate religious sensitivity training.
If Johnson's conduct continues unchecked, he wil expose the School to numerous lawsuits.

35

 Feb 02, 2012 at 04:44 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #32  
qazxc Says:

Another of Gd's accountants, here to explain His cheshbonos to VIN readers.

I think #10 made a good insight. Why do you have to criticize?

36

 Feb 02, 2012 at 04:44 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #32  
qazxc Says:

Another of Gd's accountants, here to explain His cheshbonos to VIN readers.

Who are you to shut down everyone who shares like YOU know better bigshot?

37

 Feb 02, 2012 at 06:06 PM ShmuelG Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

The school system in Montgomery County and many other areas has a firm policy against any types of headwear. If Nat Lewin (who lives very close to the school in question) can argue before the Supreme Court without a yarmulke in deference to the court's rules, why should this bochur be any different? If he is that frum, go to the nearby Hebrew Academy or CES/JDS.

Because some Nat is ashamed of being a Jew, doesn't mean everybody else should also succumb to such self-loathing.

38

 Feb 02, 2012 at 06:10 PM ShmuelG Says:

Reply to #20  
anyview Says:

Sugget you review the Free exercise clause of the Constitution's first amendment. Also, Caleb is not bound by religious decisions made by Nat Lewin.

what surprises me hee is that a kippah is "not traditional headwear that we are accustomed to seeing" in Maryland, which has a large Jewish community.

That yarmulke "is not traditional headwear that we are accustomed to seeing” is an outright lie that unambiguously reveals that principal's hostility to Jews. You called it right. In Central Maryland yarmulkes are very common.

39

 Feb 02, 2012 at 10:40 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
ExpatriateOwl Says:

One hundred rabbis should send letters to the principal, with copies to each member of the school board. They should be sent via certified mail. And copies should be sent to the school board's attorney (who will, no doubt, bill for his time).

When the school officials find that letting the kid wear a kippah is less bureaucratically burdensome than placing obstacles to wearing the kippah, they will let Jewish kids wear their kippot without any further hassle.

sure, one hundred Rabbis will lie and say that they know the boy and the family just because you say so - same with your crackpot idea of the the schoold board attorney billing them for receiving junk mail. You have a screw loose somewhere.

40

 Feb 02, 2012 at 10:41 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Materetsky Says:

Kol hakavod to caleb, sad that u have to go through this but what a kiddush Hashem u are making by handling it so well.

You people don't seem to understand the issue. There's no problem wearing a yarmulka, but when you start after a number of years of not wearing one, the principal wanted to know the reason for the sudden changge.

41

 Feb 02, 2012 at 10:42 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #30  
Aryeh Says:

According to law, if a citizen wants to wear a spaghetti strainer on her head as part of an homage to the 'flying spaghetti monster' religion, she has every right to the exercise of her religion. The school should be sued.

you know little about religion, and even less about the law.

You are wrong on both counts.

42

 Feb 02, 2012 at 10:45 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Mark Levin Says:

It seems to me he is BH a baal tshuva so its time for him to leave this school & go someplace frum.

Had I been the student I probably would have proved it to the principal right then & there... v'hamayvin yovin!!!

wow! big talker! exactly what would you have done? punched him out? beat him up? What, big talker?

43

 Feb 03, 2012 at 12:51 AM shmiell Says:

Reply to #27  
DonielS Says:

Let's put the record straight:

It's ossur to walk 4 Amos outside w/o a head covering. Indoors there is no such requirement unless one is learning Torah or davening/saying brachot. Wearing a Kippa all the time is the chumra according to many Poskim.

It's ossur to shave one's beard with a razor. Shaving any other way is allowed. Having a beard is the chumra.

Once the hippies arrived on the scene and wore whatever they liked, the Yidden also decided to look more Jewish. Good for us! But that does not change Halacha.

Most contemporary Poskim rule that since it has been accepted to cover ones head indoors for many generations, it takes on the status of a din, and in some circumstances could even be yehoreig v'al yaavor.
Shaving with "misporayim ke'en taar" (aka.nowadays an electric shaver, not only a lift-and-cut) is ossur according to most Rishonim; many even hold that it's a D'Oraisa. In Europe when there was a gezeira by the goyim that Yidden had to shave, those who held that it wasn't yehoreig v'al yaavor and did shave (as well as the oilam hayeshivos afterwards, who continued to shave) used a salve (sulfur in the form of cream or powder) to remove the beard. Ask any older person who remembers this, and their nose will immediately turn up at the memory of it, as it was a smell which one didn't easily forget! Here in America, many Poskim permitted electric shavers only because people were using razors. Shaving with an electric shaver is a kula; it became very commonplace (as did taking off the yarmulke at work) due to the pressures of the time, and the inability to find work if one wasn't clean-shaven and bareheaded. As for the hippies, I think it was more like 20 years later than them.

44

 Feb 03, 2012 at 12:27 AM mnmnmn Says:

Reply to #24  
shmiell Says:

Nat Lewin belongs to an older generation, when almost no one wore a yarmulke in the workplace. Considering the state of yiddishkeit in America at that time, it is not surprising; he had plenty of mesirus nefesh just to keep Shabbos. In those days, people were maikil (with or without poskim) with the yarmulke and used their kochos to keep Shabbos, so that's what he's used to. In many countries where there is not a strong vibrant visible frum community it's the same. It's the same story with beards. Nowadays, when there is a much stronger frum community, we don't need to rely on the kulos anymore. Yes, the older folks will still rely on the leniencies because that's what they are used to, and we should be in awe of their tenacity in resisting the pressure 50 years ago regarding Shabbos in the workplace. We have to stand up to our own nisyonos; if someone nowadays would give in on the yarmulke, I don't think that they would have made it as a frum yid in the workplace vis-a-vis Shabbos etc. 50 years ago. So you can't compare the two scenarios.

great comment. looks like u have a very strait mind. keep it up.

45

 Feb 03, 2012 at 12:10 PM jerryleib613 Says:

Unfortunately, the story misstated the facts. They will be doing a followup story interviewing all the orthodox students in the school who have never had problems and never needed to bring in any notes. I know of a case where the school was ordering pizza for a group of students and this principal ordered kosher pizza just for the one or two orthodox students in the group.
Unlike the others, this student suddenly decided to wear a "kippah" but it was not a simple kippah. It was an oversized hat. The principal said that he had seen many differnet styles of kippot but he had never seen one like that one and that is why he asked for the note.

My son is one of his orthodox students and I know for a fact that he is one of the best and most tolerant people I know.

46

 Feb 03, 2012 at 12:17 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #34  
Anonymous Says:

Very well stated.
Principal Henry Johnson claimed that "students are asked for verification when their religious headwear is not traditional headwear that we are accustomed to seeing.”
Seriously?? In 2012...Silver Spring, Maryland!
It is very difficult to believe that Mr. Johnson was not familiar with, or accustomed to seeing a kippah.
Principal Henry Johnson needs some immediate religious sensitivity training.
If Johnson's conduct continues unchecked, he wil expose the School to numerous lawsuits.

Look at the facebook picture of the kid. He has thick cornrows. He cannot wear a "kippah srugah." The "kippah" he wore was actually an oversized hat, even larger that the Nachman kippot you see. (I heard this from someone very reliable in that school). Add to this, that the kid was not wearing a kippah previously. The principal has always allowed kids to wear kippot with no problems.

47

 Feb 03, 2012 at 12:20 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #38  
ShmuelG Says:

That yarmulke "is not traditional headwear that we are accustomed to seeing” is an outright lie that unambiguously reveals that principal's hostility to Jews. You called it right. In Central Maryland yarmulkes are very common.

You are mistaken. I know the principal. He has always allowed kids in with kippot, including mine. There was no need for a letter. look at the kid's picture on his facebook page and you will see why he did not have a typical kippah. What he was wearing could best be described as an oversized hat. Also, he never wore a kippah previously.
The principal is a very tolerant person whom I respect deeply for how he welcomed my son into the school while wearing his kipah.

48

 Feb 06, 2012 at 02:17 PM ShmuelG Says:

Reply to #47  
Anonymous Says:

You are mistaken. I know the principal. He has always allowed kids in with kippot, including mine. There was no need for a letter. look at the kid's picture on his facebook page and you will see why he did not have a typical kippah. What he was wearing could best be described as an oversized hat. Also, he never wore a kippah previously.
The principal is a very tolerant person whom I respect deeply for how he welcomed my son into the school while wearing his kipah.

Ok, since you know the man, I will have to take your word for it and take back what I said. But you also imply that there are several "orthodox" boys in that school. That I find difficult to believe. Orthodox kids just don't go to public schools.

49

 Feb 07, 2012 at 06:01 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #48  
ShmuelG Says:

Ok, since you know the man, I will have to take your word for it and take back what I said. But you also imply that there are several "orthodox" boys in that school. That I find difficult to believe. Orthodox kids just don't go to public schools.

I am the child's father, and need to clarify some things.
1) I met with Dr. Johnson as a mensch, presented my concerns and listened. It was agreed that the policy will be changed to that a parents permission alone, would from now on; would suffice for ANY child to wear a religious head covering.
2) I feel that Dr. Johnson is a caring man, and has a difficult job to do, and made an honest mistake, which he acknowledges. He should be allowed to continue to concentrate on educating our children, and putting lessons learned into better teaching practices without having to endure anymore attacks and unproductive comments.
3) Caleb is a good kid trying to express his Hebrew identity in a unique way (as is common among teenagers). He speaks fluent Hebrew, chanted his WHOLE Bar Mitzvah portion from the Torah, and is trying to fit in and be cool.( He has worn unique kippas all of his life) My whole family is not as strictly observant as we were when we lived in Israel, and we all are making efforts at returning back. Judaism has never been an all or none religion, and I hope people only encourage him to do more, and attach himself to the Torah whose ways all lead to peace.

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