geminigirl: (Beta headshot)
[personal profile] geminigirl
You may or may not recall that two years ago, Naomi wrote a letter to the mayor of our town about the lack of Hanukkah decorations in the city light displays, and he wrote back to her promising to correct that. Two years later, there are still no Hanukkah decorations in the city-sponsored display, and when we were talking about this with a friend of mine, (who happens to also be the pastor of the local Presbyterian church,) she suggested that Naomi go to the public comment period at the city council meeting and make a statement.

My name is Naomi and I am 8 years old.

Two years ago I wrote a letter to the mayor about there being no Hanukkah decorations. I wanted there to be some because it doesn’t seem fair that all the decorations are for the Christian people. The mayor wrote me back, and promised me that there would be Hanukkah decorations. I think we should think about everyone who lives in Apopka all the time, and even though we are different we all share some things. I think almost everyone likes to look at pretty lights. One of the most important things about the story of Hanukkah is about the lights. I know that Altamonte Springs and Daytona Beach have Menorahs. I am disappointed that the mayor didn’t keep his promise. I feel left out when I see only Christmas decorations. I would like for the City to put money in their budget to make sure there are Hanukkah decorations like a Menorah for next year. I would like to help light the Menorah when you do that.

Thank you for listening to me.

And mine:

Mr Mayor and honored members of the city council, I am Naomi’s mother, and I have wholeheartedly supported from the beginning, her efforts to ensure that the true diversity of the city of Apopka is represented. Naomi has clearly embraced the true meaning of Hanukkah-of standing up for your beliefs and for what is right, and not just going with the crowd, and as a parent, nothing could make me more proud.

Between the months of November and January, nearly 30 religious holidays are celebrated, many of them focused on bringing light to a dark world. In a time when our country is feeling increasingly divided, when we are seeing a surge in hate crimes, standing for diversity in every way possible, including our holiday decorations sends a message of true compassion, of belief in a better world and in the real meaning of the words we speak every time we recite the Pledge of Allegiance-”liberty, and justice for all.” Placing Hanukkah decorations in our public display shows the whole world that Apopka stands together as a city that values all of the people who live there, that we will not let the anger and hate and mistrust that is rippling through our country right now damage our city and that should the Jewish families in our city face threats and violence like the Jewish families in Tallahassee are, our city will stand united in rejecting that hate.

If we truly believe in creating a better world for our children, in showing them they are loved and valued and creating the next generation of leaders, we need to ensure that all of our children see themselves represented in the world they see around them, in their books, movies and television, in their schools among their teachers, represented in their government, and yes, in their public holiday decorations and celebrations as well. This is an opportunity for the City of Apopka to be the light in the dark.

I also read a statement from my friend the Pastor, who had planned to attend but got called away to church at the last minute. The mayor was visibly uncomfortable with the statement. I was busy watching Naomi, more than the mayor, but Andrew says that it was kind of like "Uh oh, I did promise this, I've been caught and shamed by an 8 year old and now it's public record." We were really prepared-we even brought a copy of her letter and the mayor's response, which were collected by the city clerk and entered into the record.

I have no idea if it will matter in the end, if anything will change. But my kids are learning truly how to make waves, how to hold elected officials accountable, how not to let things be if they're not right. And that's an important lesson.

I also submitted my first piece of writing for publication. We'll see where that goes...probably a dead end, but if it happens, that would be awesome.

Date: 2016-12-26 08:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So very, very proud. :)

Date: 2016-12-27 03:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This has been a wonderful thing that Naomi has been doing, I am tremendously impressed!

(Thanks for posting here as well, I don't reply to things on Facebook. And I really wanted to let you all know the above.)

Date: 2016-12-29 10:31 am (UTC)
emperor: (Phoenix)
From: [personal profile] emperor
Go Naomi, and indeed, go you! I hope you manage to get some traction.


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