By Kathleen Sterling
We make latkes for Chanukah. Decorate the tree for Christmas. Celebrate and respect more than one holiday this year. I go to mass at the Catholic church. Went to Hebrew school with friends as a child. Love the interdenominational services with Temple Aliyah and St. Bernardine. Was awed at the opening of the Mohammedi Center in Woodland Hills. At this holiday season I look around at our small village in the middle of a big city and hope that we all have tolerance and understanding – of all faiths. The vitriol on social media coming from different groups worries – and scares me. Swastikas have been found on local schools and stores in Calabasas and Encino. After Kanye West’s anti-semitic rant some group hung a banner over the 405 Freeway saying, Kanye is right about the Jews” and stood behind it making Nazi salutes. Children also hear everything their parents say and perhaps pick up on prejudices, feelings and fears. “You’ve Got to Be Taught to Hate.” The line from the “South Pacific” song has always resonated with me. I tried in my own life to teach my child to grow up without bias. I actually remember her kindergarten class was quite diverse. All the four and five-year olds were confused when one parent asked them the hate crimes. But I also pray that we don’t judge first and learn later. In the current climate it’s hard not to worry about radical elements. But even as adults, don’t jump to conclusions. Be aware. Be smart. Be cautious. But also be understanding, and tolerant. Be educated enough to know that not all people of one race or religion are all bad or all good. Be a beacon of love and peace. For your children, for your friends, for all of us together in this community. Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa from all of us at Valley News Group.