Carolers Protest Religious-Music Ban; Jews Join in N.J. Demonstration

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 22, 2004 | Go to article overview

Carolers Protest Religious-Music Ban; Jews Join in N.J. Demonstration


Byline: Ralph Z. Hallow, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Susan Rosenbluth and fellow Orthodox Jews yesterday came to Maplewood, N.J., to join a crowd of more than 100 carolers in singing Christmas and Hanukkah songs in front of Columbia High School.

Holiday hymns were sung in response to school policies that Steve Lonegan - the Republican mayor of nearby Bogota, N.J., who organized the event - called "intolerance" toward traditional religious beliefs.

The carolers showed up outside the school, which held its annual holiday music program last night, to protest a South Orange/Maplewood School District ban on religious songs at schools in this community across the Hudson River from New York.

"The greatest works of art in Western civilization are inspired by religious - predominantly Christian - convictions," said Mrs. Rosenbluth, editor of Jewish Voice and Opinion, an Englewood-based monthly.

"We are religious Jews who believe Western civilization is the heritage of all of our children in the United States," Mrs. Rosenbluth said, explaining why she and other Orthodox Jews joined the protest.

"This started out as a small event I decided last week to do," said Mr. Lonegan, who is Catholic. "I expected a handful of people and attacks against me by newspaper editors. Instead, there's this groundswell of support and the newspapers haven't attacked me - yet."

He, Mrs. Rosenbluth and about 200 fellow carolers, all in high spirits, sang such traditional tunes as "Silent Night," "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Joy to the World" - as well as "Come Light the Menorah" and "I Have a Little Dreidel."

Mr. Lonegan, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, said he asked the other Republican candidates and the Democratic governor of the state to join in the protest caroling, but they hadn't responded. Maplewood Mayor Frank Profeta, a Democrat, came to the event to shake hands and greet the protesters.

"I've been on all three network channels here and have been doing radio shows on stations all over the United States, from Kansas and Texas to Florida and Vermont," Mr. …

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