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Dispute over Jewish tradition could nix Christmas trees

Original post made on Oct 10, 2011

Every autumn, for more than a decade, Abraham Berman's sukkah made an appearance on the second-floor patio of Sheridan Apartments, an affordable-housing complex near the California Avenue Business District. Now, Berman's custom is facing a ban from building managers -- a ban that could affect religious celebrations at 20 apartment buildings in Palo Alto.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, October 10, 2011, 10:13 PM

Comments (135)

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2011 at 11:01 pm

I hope that they can find a peaceful resolution to this and the Christmas tree non-issue soon. I feel for him & for the management.

I doubt that this will be helpful to Mr. Berman, but he is more than welcome to use our yard for his Sukkot & would be happy to help him with it. If he is interested, he can contact me at iamhmmm (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 10, 2011 at 11:02 pm

I hope that they can find a peaceful resolution to this and the Christmas tree non-issue soon. I feel for him & for the management.

I doubt that this will be helpful to Mr. Berman, but he is more than welcome to use our yard for his Sukkot & would be happy to help him with it. If he is interested, he can contact me at iamhmmm (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Posted by JT
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2011 at 1:34 am

Good job, PA Housing Corp. -- We need to ban any references to religion, faith or spirituality. I don't care if it's where he lives! I'm glad to see this controversy means the end to Holiday Trees. About time!!! In fact, I don't use money anymore because of that appalling "In God We Trust" motto. If the founders of our nation wanted us to reference God, they would have said something about it in the Declaration of Independence. Glad they didn't!!!

Posted by Antoine Dodson
a resident of another community
on Oct 11, 2011 at 6:20 am

....seriously? Live and let live. Our Christmas trees are no more or less relevant than his sukkot. PA Housing is being ridiculous.

Posted by get it right
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 11, 2011 at 7:44 am

The holiday is Sukkot. The structure is a sukkah. The article is correct, but the posters are not.

Never too late to learn!

Posted by concerned
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2011 at 7:44 am

Please let him have the sukkot. I hate when the so-called rules all of a sudden get applied to those who are doing something legitimate but different. How should that make him feel? I'm Catholic and we all benefit. Let's be inclusive here in Palo Alto.

Posted by It's Simple
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2011 at 8:00 am

Talk about rigid! The PA Housing Corporation could be creative and thoughtful in working this out, and is being neither. There is a difference between storing personal property in common areas--loading up the patio with bicycles, old refrigerators, and containers of used motor oil--and a symbol of one's spiritual path, put up in accordance with ancient traditions, and limited as to time and space used. Why not put in a clause that allows such symbols, with some thoughtful guidelines? Instead, these tunnel-vision bureaucrats allow themselves to become grinches, killing off another benign (albeit pagan) tradition rather than finding ways to be positive and supportive.

Folks, let's at least look at creative alternatives!

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2011 at 8:24 am

This is being silly. If the structure was there on a semi permanent basis I would understand, but it is only a week and it sounds as if it is a well maintained structure.

By the way, Christmas trees have nothing to do with the bible Christmas story. It is a relic from pagan Europe winter solstice celebrations.

Live and let live, as far as allowing people to celebrate their traditions and their religions.

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2011 at 8:46 am

I would encourage the PA Housing folks to consider using common areas as a place where various groups can set up displays regarding their holiday traditions every year, in celebration of the diversity this area enjoys. I would encourage groups of all faiths to put up a traditional-type display and to enjoy the displays set up by others.

It may be a little late this year to get proper involvement from all the groups who might want to participate, but they should try, and I would expect a much better set of displays next year after people have more time to plan for it. It could actually be a fun and festive place to visit during the holiday season.

The banning of displays and discouraging of diversity is wrong to the point of being disgusting.

Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2011 at 9:28 am

ONLY IN PALO ALTO. This town is just a fight looking for a place to happen. No doubt this will make CNN and FOX and all the others news stories wanting 'human interest'. Anderson Cooper will come to town. It also makes the City of Palo Alto look like salad - as in egg-salad-on-face. If someone wants to sue, let 'em sue, and spend the money and make of fool of himself or herself. We don't need this!! The Housing Board is WRONG. Lighten up!!!

Posted by tikvah
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2011 at 9:32 am

somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly,birds fly over the rainbow ,why then oh why can't I.
freedpm to fly ,freedom to breathe,freedom of man FOR MAN.
this is the essence of our united states of america and the bloodshed until today .
come together,build together,honor together,respect together,learn together.
there are enough "stumbling blocks "without this once a year ,for a week temporary traditional structure.
be ashamed of yourself you who are disturbing the togetherness of our people.

Posted by Jayna Sheats
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 11, 2011 at 9:33 am

Mascarenhas is being highly ingenious. Obviously this decision has nothing to do with "storing private property in a public area", since it has been going on without objection for 11 years (and is temporary, so hardly consists of "storing"). Why stir up such animosity when none was there? Everyone seemed to be getting along quite well on this (sukkah, trees, etc.) until she jumped in.

My guess is that she has some hidden bureaucratic agenda, such as ingratiating herself with a boss whom she thinks will be impressed with her devotion to strict legal interpretations or some such.

Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 11, 2011 at 9:53 am

Few people know this but this is also the origin of the catch phrase "I'm going to get you sukkah!"

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2011 at 9:59 am

Actually, I wish I had time to help Mr. Berman build his sukkah. It sounds like a fun little project and he might welcome a large gorilla-type for the construction. While doing it I could leaen more about the history and tradition of the sukkah and have some fun. I have a feeling I could learn a lot from Mr. Berman as I know nothing of these traditions. But one can learn a lot from Wikipedia. :)

Personally, I would never dream of denying this old gentleman his quiet and peaceful short-term tradition, and I cannot fathom why anyone would want to do so.

Posted by Grumpy Granny
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 11, 2011 at 10:34 am

Of all the idiotic things! For heaven's sake, let the man have his "booth" and let the residents enjoy both that and the Christmas tree. We are a multicultural, pretty well-educated community here, and ought to be able to freely enjoy each others traditions, surely? I feel really grumpy about this issue! Narrow-mindedness in the name of political correctness, run amok!

Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2011 at 10:55 am

Why can't he enjoy his Sukkat/Sukkoh/whatever in his own home? Why does he have to insist on putting it in our face in a shared space over which he has no property rights?

Posted by Semite
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:01 am

What is the Palo Alto Housing Corporation's problem?!??

Posted by John Galt
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:03 am

Only in Palo Alto!!!

Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:10 am

God, I am so tired of PC b.s. It would be one thing if it applied equally, but it doesn't. In a more extreme example, in our prisons, Muslim diets are accommodated, but when Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols wanted a diet that would enable him to adhere to his particular Christian faith, that request was denied. Not that I have much sympathy for anybody of ANY faith in prison, but still, the distinction is there. Locally, I remember years ago, I went to a Christmas Concert at Jordan Middle School, which I believe has been now changed to a 'Holiday Concert.' Because ONE Jewish student complained, Christmas music was dropped from the program. For many years, these religions coexisted with much less friction, and people displayed their Christmas Trees, Mezuzahs, and other displays in honor of their beliefs and in most cases, minimal fuss was made.

People take themselves too seriously now, and I am disgusted by the divisiveness of this so called enlightened community.

Posted by Really?
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:12 am

David Pepperdine - if you read the article, he can't put it in his apartment because: "This, he said, is impossible because the sukkah, by Jewish law, has to allow the occupant to see the sky. His balcony, however, stands under an eave that would block the view of the sky."

I don't think it would do any of us any harm to learn a little more about others' religions. Maybe there would be less war in the world. I guess I would be considered an atheist, and I am happy to learn about others' traditions. Consider it a lesson in culture or sociology, a broadening of your horizons and leave the poor old guy alone! I guess the people worrying about him putting this up should be grateful that their lives are so good they don't have anything better to worry about?!

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:15 am

David Pepperdine, Mr. Berman *IS* trying to put his sukkah ip near his own home, he lives in that project, and I assume he wants to put it up just outside his apartment. From what I read, he will need access to it frequently from his home to properly follow traditions. He is not trying to put it up "in your face" unless you also live there, and for the past 11 years his sukkah has not been a problem.

I dislike when government burocrats reach for the easy solution (ban all religious displays) rather than the correct solution (open up, encourage and enjoy diversity, use it as an educational experience for our kids).

I think that newness and unfamiliarity breed fear, and fear breeds repression, and that leads to more problems than the original problem. This even happens in Palo Alto.

Can I help Mr. Berman build his sukkah and share some time with him? Who would like to join him, enjoy him, and experience something new?

Posted by Joy Baum
a resident of another community
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:15 am

I am in favor of having any house of Peace, Spirit and Nature as a temporary reminder that we are all part of the same universal team!I think it would be a good idea for the PA Housing group to join in and participate in the building of this Sukkah......

Where everyone is to be respected and admired for the contributions that they make to each other, the community and the planet; how could that be a bad thing? I have alot of respect for Mr. Berman, who in his small way is holding up a light that can shine for all of us! Bravo!

Posted by Garden Gnome
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:20 am

The worst part of it all is Mr. Berman's concern regarding others' right to practice their religion. What is the world coming to, if we're going to continue to be willing to live peacefully with each other?

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:23 am

Allow the man to share Sukkot with his neighbors by continuing the tradition of building his sukkah. Tradition is good. Children can learn history. His generous spirit should be applauded, especially in these bah-humbug days that mostly honor the unholy trinity of "Me, Myself and I". Look for the benefits - there are tons.

This man is an ideal patriarch for people that don't have anyone older & wiser in their life to look to. What a treasure he is - I cheer him, sending sincere kudos & thanks for his enthusiasm! We need MORE men like him! {And I too, am not Jewish.}

As an aside:
The City of Mountain View is sponsoring a "How to be Civil in Public" seminar tomorrow night (Wed) from 6:30-8:30PM at the MV senior center for Mountain View residents to learn conflict resolution skills. Representatives from Google, business owners and resident leaders will help facilitate a round table discussion put on by the MV Human Resources Commission, organized by Commissioner Ken Rosenberg.

The City of Palo Alto would be wise to consider doing the same thing for its residents, that quarrel & bicker over everything from major issues that impact everyone, like the library & land use issues, to petty minutia, like the story above. There was even an assault on one resident by another in February, 2009, lest anyone forget that heated Planning meeting.

All over the Bay Area, city councils have a monkey see-monkey do way of approaching business now. The same topics come up repeatedly, like a wave going up & down the Peninsula.

So this *particular issue*: how to remain civil handling conflict resolution in a manner that's a win/win even for those with opinions in direct opposition to each other, is an *excellent* topic for Palo Alto City Council and Staff to copy.

Mountain View is leading the way tomorrow night, by courageously providing a proactive way to handle city conflict, engaging citizens that want to learn how to do it better, for the benefit of the whole community.

Posted by Jane
a resident of University South
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:25 am

This is as stupid as management gets.

And, David Pepperdine, the article explains that a sukkah has to have a view of the sky.

Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:35 am

The executive exists to make sensible exceptions to general rules. (Elting Morison)

Posted by BMR Homeowner
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:40 am

Palo Alto Housing has been serving itself since inception, not the people of Palo Alto.

Posted by Heartfulart
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:42 am

I think it's a great way to build a bridge between cultures and religions by sharing this sort of custom! I'm not Jewish, but I worked at a synagogue and learned more about Jewish traditions, and have helped to put up a sukkah - it is a beautiful holiday and the perfect way to encourage peaceful dialogue and understanding.
The real cause of ridiculous issue is the fear of being sued for something! Why not let all cultures share their traditions?

Posted by Downtown PA Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:53 am

I understand Palo Alto Housing Corporation's dilema. It would be difficult for them to allow EVERY resident in an apartment building, however, big or small to use the common areas for personal belongings, religious or otherwise. They are a private property owner and, as any other property owner, have the right to limit residents from temporary and/or permanent storing of personal belongings in the common area. Their refusal to allow the sukkah in a common area patio is NOT unreasonable!

Posted by Let him be
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 11, 2011 at 12:06 pm

There is a big difference between an individual observing his faith, from a religious group getting a public institution, like a school, to observe or sing its traditions.
This is an individual who is not attempting to take over a part of the culture, as for example the high school christmas events which are inappropriate. Let him be.

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2011 at 12:14 pm

The common area of an apartment complex, I would assume, is for the common use of the residents of that complex. Mr/ Berman is not "storing" anything, he is erecting a small temporary structure in accordance with his religous beliefs and the only problem I have with it is that it is not going to be there for longer than one week. It would be nice if this holiday overlapped better with Christmas and the holiday season.

As a Christian, if I lived in that apartment complex I might want to "store" a Christmas tree and some decorations in that common area for a little while. I would also be VERY interested to see holiday displays from Muslim families, Jewish families, Hindu families, or any other religion that happened to exist nearby. I would love to visit those.

Suggestion to Mr Berman: When you build your sukkah (and I hope you do) print out the wikipedia page on the definition of the sukkah, wrap it in plastic, and tack it up on the outside of your sukkah so that people can learn what it is all about. Good luck to you, and may God bless you.

Posted by Ellie
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 11, 2011 at 12:19 pm

This is not a popularity contest - who is sympathetic and who is stirring things up. This is not PAHC vs. Tiny Tim. This is a constitutional issue. Maybe everyone should calm down and take this as a moment to think about free speech, freedom of religion, freedom from religion, etc. Always worthy of a good think. I am sure it will get worked out.


Posted by Denese
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2011 at 12:32 pm

In other countries they may or may not honor americans. what country is this? I am confused? We can't say Merry X-mas, we don't pray in school unless it is private, we don't even say a pledge of allegence.

I did a survey at a Palo Alto football game. When the national anthem was played people did not stand, take off their hats or put their hand over their heart. where can you get a good hotdog or hamburger, McDonalds.

Is this America or what. I am sorry, but we have become so focused on other countries and cultures what is the American culture.
Kids get expelled for wearing a shirt with an American flag on Cinco De Mio, don't say Merry X-mas, what next.

Leave his item up and leave the Christmas tree up also.

Posted by JO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Even the City of Palo Alto provides for "variances" and multiple "exceptions" to its zoning rules. There is a process, and if the officials can make the findings, an exception is made, often-times despite the strong objections of residents and neighbors.

Seems to me that the reasonable thing for PAHC to do is to set up a process to make an exception for erecting "personal" things in common areas. If the exception is made through an open process, and there are no objections, then make the exception. Don't go dreaming up worst case scenarios of extremely unlikely situations. And the open process can involve anonymity or undisclosed identities of residents with concerns or objections. (And they can set parameters such as duration, size, noise, odors, doesn't attract pests, obstruction, safety hazard, etc. -- common sense stuff).

Who is the lawyer whose advice is being followed here? The PAHC Board needs to set this right. This reflects badly on PAHC,which is a 501 (c)(3) corporation that relies heavily on public goodwill, especially on the goodwill of the City of Palo Alto. --That's an idea. Get the City Council to put on some pressure here. According to the January 2011 City Roster, Karen Holman is the Council Member assigned as liaison to the Palo Alto Housing Corporation. Send email to

Posted by Jared Bernstein
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm

It may be that the Sukkah is "his" and the trees are put up by the organization.

So, the organization can put up the Sukkah too. that should be within the rules, no?

Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2011 at 1:03 pm

I would like to add my vote to fully support Mr. Berman [and I am not Jewish] and the Christmas Trees [and I am not a Christian]
They are both wonderful examples of aspects of our diverse culture, they cause no harm and after all, its just for a very short period of time.

Posted by Bob March
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Oct 11, 2011 at 1:07 pm

It wouldn't hurt if we all re-read the First Amendment, in its entirety. For too long, too much attention has been focused on the so-called Establishment Clause: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, ... ." Way too little has been focused on the clause that comes right after that comma: "... or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

We, the people, get it. We express it as "live and let live." You can put up your sukkah, I can put my Christmas tree, and so on. Just be courteous. Works great, as do most of the customs of ordinary people.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2011 at 1:17 pm

If they ban Christmas trees, I hope they ban Halloween decorations also!

As I said before, this is silly. This is where people live and shared space is just that. He is sharing his culture with his neighbors for a short time. He may never need to use the patio at any other time of the year for anything, but it should be his right to use a small part of the patio to share his culture, just like someone else may want to use the shared patio for a kids' lemonade stand, or a joint barbeque, or a birthday get together.

Posted by Manny Kulturs
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 11, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Easy. The management convenes a small board of residents, calls it the "Holiday Committee" and they agree on several reasonable cultural/seasonal displays throughout the year. Thus sanctioned, the holiday trees, the sukkah, a potluck on Eid al-Fitr, candles for Kwaanza, etc. all can have a sanctioned temporary home in the building.

Posted by Ex Property Manager
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 11, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I truly feel for Mr. Berman however having previously been in property management, I completely understand and can appreciate Palo Alto Housing Corporation's position. I have had to deal with a similar issue in the past and contrary to what many people state here, it is difficult to allow one and not 100 others and yet be accountable for the overall management and maintain control of a property. It could end up being a full time job 'policing' what and where everything goes up. Based on the article it appears as though both sides are reasonable, their heart is in the right place and I'm sure they'll work it out.

Posted by Appartment Community Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I am not sure how many of the comments above come from residents of an apartment community. If you do, you may have a better understanding. I have lived in appartments most of my adult life and I have yet to come across a management company that allowed us to take over part of a hallway, lobby or patio. While I haven't always been pleased, the alternative of having the hallways, lobbys, recreation rooms etc. full of personal items whether for one day, one week or ten days seems ridiculous. Definitely a difficult line to draw...I like your stuff so it can stay for 10 days; I don't like your's, it needs to go, your altar requiring candles cannot stay etc. etc.

Posted by Amused
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm

This controversy sounds like the eruv. Much ado about nothing. Allow it - for a few days! No harm - and a lot of good will.

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 11, 2011 at 2:31 pm

My new neighbors across the street are four Stanford students from Israel. Last weekend they spent building a structure with curtains around it and a bamboo roof, obviously a sukkah!!

The structure, which I had assumed was a haunted house for Halloween, is built over the driveway and butt up against the neighbors fence. Clearly this is in violation of Palo Alto's zoning codes but since it was a haunted house (I thought) I wouldn't complain until after Halloween.

Well, sometimes the PA Weekly can educate and I've been educated, thank goodness I didn't complain out of sheer ignorance - thank you PA Weekly!! Meanwhile, I hope they keep it up after October 19th and turn it into a Haunted House for Halloween because our street gets a lot of trick-a-treaters, or would that be violating a religious symbol?

Posted by Sukkah Ruckus
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 11, 2011 at 2:32 pm

There are multiple issues involved in the sukkah ruckus; however, the bigger issue is not about the sukkah but about PAHC’s management of the Sheridan Apartments.

Two or three years ago management summarily fired it’s on site manager who had been at the Sheridan Apartment since PAHC took over from private owners in 1998. <Web Link

After a period of no on-site manager, a new manger was finally hired. Within a month or two, he was fired. After not showing up at the front office for several days, residents reported seeing him staggering drunk on the premises. Turns out he was an alcoholic. Some vetting process PAHC has for hiring someone as an on-site manager for an apartment complex housing seniors and people with disabilities.

Subsequently, there were several interim managers and finally a permanent manager was hired. From I been given to understand, she was a very fine manager but after awhile, she quit in part because of issues with the administration.

Perhaps PAHC board of director should look into how the administration is doing its job instead of creating an issue over something that had not been an issue before. From several of friends who live at the Sheridan Apartments, no one ever express concern over Mr. Berman’s sukkah.

The fault, dear PAHC, is not with the sukkah, but with the administration that has chosen to pick a fight with someone over which they have the power to make homeless.

Perhaps PAHC board of director should look into how the administration is doing its job.

Posted by Humanist
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 11, 2011 at 2:37 pm

This issue makes the management of PAHC look quite ridiculous. If Netflix can recant, so can they. They should do it immediately.

Posted by Outrageous
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 11, 2011 at 2:41 pm

This is outrageous!! I wish the residents of the building had the means to move out immediately. If we can't respect the harmless practices of our neighbors, how can we expect gangs to get along - or for that matter our politicians. Can't we set the right example for our kids and future leaders.

Our Jewish neighbors helped us decorate our Christmas tree and we helped build their sukkah. What a great experience for everyone involved. The fact that the building is using a storage ordinance as their reason shows this is rooted in intolerance. Fire everyone involved!! There are plenty of strong candidates out there who could do a much better job.

Posted by sally
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Young American men and women are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan because of religious intolerance. ENOUGH!

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I agree with Sally. It seems that we have made a progression here in America:
1) We are guaranteed freedom of speech and religion
2) We must see to it that everyone has equal freedoms
3) The easiest way to make sure everyone has equal freedom is to knock the freedoms of everyone down to zero.

No one can be unfairly over-represented if everyone is equally un-represented. That's equality, but wait, where did the freedom go?

Posted by PC
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 11, 2011 at 5:01 pm

In a time of so much strife in the world, why can't the PA Housing Corp find enough peace inside to allow others a little peace and joy.
Both the sukkah and the Christmas tree put smiles on people's faces during the holiday season(s). Isn't that reason enough to allow them?
Get a life!

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I wonder if this could be made into a new holiday movie: "How the Grinch Stole Hanukah", except that this is not yet about Hanukah.

Posted by An Agnostic Resident
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 11, 2011 at 6:42 pm

The area in question is not in the building, it is an outside area next to where a washing machine and dryer vent.

Rarely, if ever, does anyone use the area where Mr. Berman wishes to put up his sukkah. There is a large community room and a very nice ground floor patio area which are frequently by residents used for a variety of purposes.

The PAHC administration itself has used the community room to host events and have meetings.

It seems that the PAHC administration has put itself in a bind by making a hasty and ill considered decision. In the past, it paid for the Christmas tree and stored the decorations on the premises. Now, in order to to be logically consistent and appear “fair” it has to deprive residents of a tradition Christmas tree.

PAHC ought to help build strong ties in it communities. It has now set Christian traditions against Jewish traditions in order to cover itself.

What a revolting development this is!

Posted by Alex
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 11, 2011 at 9:21 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:20 pm

"It has now set Christian traditions against Jewish traditions in order to cover itself."

No, I don't think so. There is nothing in this story that is likely to turn me anti-semetic. To the contrary, it makes me want to go back up Mr. Berman. PAHC has set itself against anyone who thinks people should be able to celebrate the holidays in the manner of their choosing, regardless of their religion.

Posted by Belle
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:28 pm

This is awful just let him put it up come on now.

Posted by reason and kindness
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 11, 2011 at 11:56 pm

I wanted to chime in to say what so many have already said far better than I could, in support of Mr. Berman and his sukkah (even though I am a Christian) and the Christmas tree, (even though I see most trappings of Christmas as secular and commercial, not religious).

Thank you, Mr. Berman, for persisting for reason and for sharing this observance. Our community should not have all kindness and reason nitpicked away. I'd like to know how this goes and how the community can help.

Posted by Agnostic Resident
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 12, 2011 at 12:20 am

JustMe, it is not that PAHC is being directly anti-Semitic but rather that by banning a Christmas tree, it has created a situation whereby guess who is going to be blamed, nay scapegoated, for there not be Christmas tree - Mr. Berman and his sukkah.

PAHC made a bad decision, now it has created a BIGGER PROBLEM in the name of "fairness" by denying a Christmas tradition which it had sponsored ever since it took over the Sheridan Apartments. Every year it bought a Christmas tree and sponsored a Christmas decoration party but now it now going to happen because ???

BTW, Mr Berman and his family were there every year happily helping decorate the tree.

It is indeed a revolting development and PAHC should be ashamed.

Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2011 at 12:28 am

A good place to start might be:

Web Link

It would seem that since this is subsidized housing some form of federal discrimination and/or protected class law would apply here.

Posted by JO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2011 at 12:34 am

And speaking of “revolting developments” . . . (imagine a drum rimshot here) . . . in 2009 the Palo Alto Housing Corporation (“PAHC”) got the City Council to approve a high density housing project that was way out of line with the surrounding zoning for the project location. The project at 488 West Charleston Rd. is called the “Tree House,” and PAHC not only got the City of Palo Alto to re-zone to a “Planned Community” zone (PC zone), which means that PAHC got to write its own zoning regulations for that site, the City loaned PAHC $2,838,577 to build the project. Mind now, that these loans to affordable housing nonprofits are often “forgiven” by the City before they become due, so the $2,838,577 may eventually turn into a “gift” to PAHC.

The particularly relevant and ironic part is that the Tree House project provides no “private open space” for its residents, something which the zoning for multi-unit residential requires, and this was the reason that then Planning Commissioner Karen Holman cited for her solo NO vote on the project. Note that “private open space” usually means a small private patio. So, with no private open space, I guess the residents of the Tree House won’t be able to erect sukkahs either because they don’t have any private open space area in which to do that. Oh, but the City Council did require that the residents of the Tree House be provided with Eco Passes, so I guess the Tree House residents can take a bus to some other community to visit a sukkah. (Sarcasm intended).

I will also note that the Tree House project was strongly opposed by many of its neighbors, in stark contrast to PAHC’s Oak Court Project that was built on the old PAMF site in Professorville. But then, Oak Court was built when Marlene Prendergast was PAHC Executive Director. Back then, PAHC worked cooperatively with the neighbors to come up with a mutually agreeable project. That was then, this is now. The new PAHC Executive Director, Candice Gonzalez, is a Real Estate attorney from Southern California. With the Tree House project, PAHC’s attitude to the neighbors seemed to be “if you don’t like it, tough.” And City Council approved the project despite neighbor opposition. (5-1; Espinosa no; Barton not-participating because he lives on Charleston Rd.; Klein absent; Morton absent). (Holman wasn’t yet on the Council; Drekmeier was then Mayor). One of the main issues the neighbors had was that the project provided so little on-site parking, 32 parking spaces for 35 residential units.

Here is a web link to an article on the Planning & Transportation Commission vote on the Tree House project: Web Link

Here is a web link to an article on the City Council vote on the Tree House project: Web Link

Here is a web link to the staff report for the March 16, 2009 City Council agenda item for the Tree House project: Web Link

Posted by Marc Maloney
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2011 at 12:39 am

I have just read the article and all of the comments. As an objective business person, I feel like most of the comments, while having good intentions, completely miss the point. The PAHC administration does not appear to be against Mr. Berman erecting his Sukkah but protecting their asset, the apartment building, and trying to avoid having residents feel they own or have a right to put up anything they like in a common area. My opinion is if you can't live by the rules of an apartment community, buy or rent a house. If I owned an apartment building I certainly would not like residents taking over the hallways or patios whether it was for one day or 90 days and anything in between. Be realistic!!

Posted by sleepless in palo alto
a resident of Barron Park School
on Oct 12, 2011 at 12:47 am

Freedom of speech and religion does not include coveting thy neighbor's property. We all have a right to practice our religion and speak our mind. Mr. Berman needs to exercise these rights within the confines of his home or in a public place. Go to a temple or a mosque or a church. He does not own the apartment building in which he lives.

Posted by Ms. Mountain View
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 12, 2011 at 1:03 am

Absolutely ridiculous! I would not appreciate my neighbor building anything in my patio or back yard. Why should an apartment owner allow it. Mr. Berman, get real. You rent the apartment not the building.

Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 12, 2011 at 8:42 am

I was very glad to read that Mr. Berman values the rights of others to also celebrate their traditions. I've also lived in apartments and I'm afraid had to put up with some unfortunate junk others put around for that purpose. The management probably received some complaints from tenants who didn't like the encroachment into the shared space. This is a complex issue and shouldn't be treated as a simple mean act toward one gentleman. I hope a compromise may be reached that works well for all. How about a dedicated space in the complex where tenants can take turns placing tasteful, appropriate, respectful things of this nature? Of course, because of the long history of using religion as an excuse for killing one another, one man's tasteful religious symbol is another's call to vengeance. Sigh.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 12, 2011 at 9:09 am

Of course he should be able to put up his sukkah. Where I used to live I saw my neighbors do it each year and it was fine.
In THIS city, on PaloAltoOnline, however, I recall reading posts in past several yrs from people complaining about Christmas trees being visible through windows of homes during that holiday season. I really had a problem with that. Tolerance and respect for all the various traditions is the right way.

Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 12, 2011 at 9:36 am

This reminds me of the dispute in Los Altos a few years back that started with Jews pointing out that the Christmas pageant in the elementary schools violated the First Amendment "no establishment" clause and then escalated into conservative Christians trying to ban Halloween customs in retaliation -- some said they felt Halloween was Satanic. It was also claimed during the testimony that someone or unknown peoples were stealing from the libraries of Los Altos any books on witchcraft -- this was well before the Harry Potter and Twilight vampire crazes so I'm not sure how that shook out.
Web Link

As someone who lives at a huge apartment complex, I would guess, as other have alluded to, that the bureaucracy is at fault. Plus the typical antisemitism that lingers.

Maybe Foreskin Man could be consulted here. He might have a few tips.

By the way, although I think our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are about the money and not ideology or religion since someone else mentioned it above I wish to point out that the number of American service members killed in Afghanistan has now surpassed 1,776.

Maybe more people of various faiths and beliefs should built temporary structures open to the sky.

Posted by College
a resident of Stanford
on Oct 12, 2011 at 10:08 am

Ummmm, if you ban Christmas trees, then that is religious preference! Come on, Christmas trees aren't even truly Christian, SO WHY BAN THEM?
Other religions can do as they want,
I mean I love the Jewish culture, but this is just tooooo far!
but Christmas trees, NOT A RELIGIOUS SYMBOL! Just want to make that clear!

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 12, 2011 at 10:10 am

Mr. Berman *DID* rent a place where he could build his sukkah, and indeed, he *DID* build, use, and tear down his sukkah every year for 11 years and apparently never had a problem with his neighbors. It was PAHC that has changed the rules on him. He is not trying to build hid sukkah in ANYONE's patio or back yard, he is using a small piece of the common that apparently no one else wishes to lay claim to. He is *NOT* coveting his neighbor's property, it is common space that belongs, at least in part, to him. He is not stopping anyone else from doing what they want to do, and he is perfectly willing to give back the space in a short time when he is done with it. He is not bothering ANYONE, he is doing no harm to ANYONE, no one but the PAHC is complaining, and PAHC has their heads screwed on backwards.

As for occupying open space for this line:
"If I owned an apartment building I certainly would not like residents taking over the hallways or patios whether it was for one day or 90 days and anything in between."

Blocking a hallway would be a fire hazard, obviously wrong and illegal, and he is not doing that. He is not blocking anyone's path to anything, causing no inconvenience to anyone. If you don't like the idea that someone should lay claim to open space for even one day, how do you feel about someone paying claim to a picnic table in a park for a day? Does that offend you? How about a camp site in a park, which is open space? Gee, I might be there for a weekend or two weeks? What if I wanted to sit on a park bench for a few minutes, laying claim to and occupying open space, does that offend you? The open space he wants to use is there for the use of the tenants of that apartment complex, as long as they do not damage it and do not cause anyone inconvenience they should have free use of it. This is not an "Ownership is theft" thing.

Why would anyone want to interfere with a kindly old man who just wants to practice his faith without bothering anyone?

Posted by Interesting.
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Oct 12, 2011 at 11:35 am


The House on the Roof: A Sukkot Story
David A. Adler.

An old man works hard to build a Sukkah on the roof of his apartment building much to the displeasure of his landlady.

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 12, 2011 at 11:43 am

My experience is that no matter what you want to do, no matter how simple or within your rights, there is ALWAYS going to be someone who thinks you should not do it, even if all you want to do is exist. I learned long ago not to pay any attention to those people unless they were in a position to actually block or enforce their attitudes, whether from stupidity, ignorance, malice, or secret agenda. Then I go to war.

I also feel compassion for people run into these roadblocks. I always hesitate to attribute to malice that which can be explained by sheer stupidity, but I have also seen the malice. Whatever the cause, the blockage should be removed and Mr. Berman should be left to his peaceful ways.

Posted by Eleanor
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 12, 2011 at 2:25 pm

[Post removed at request of poster]

Posted by Joe A Villareal
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 12, 2011 at 3:09 pm

FYI Eleanor,
I know the manager at the Sheridan Apartments, she is from El Salvador not from Pakistan. She is great at her job and should not be dragged into this discussion.

BTW, PAW I indicate my neighborhood as Evergreen but I live in the Mayfield neighborhood. which is very different than Evergreen.

Evergreen is primarily single residencies whereas Mayfield is all a multi-dwelling mixture of apartment and condos.

Posted by Harry
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 12, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Of course PAHC can find a creative solution. Traditionally when this issue arose "creative Govt officials" gave the "offending" party TEN days to remove the structure or face a fine. Seems as if 99% of the people can be made happy with this solution. Unless you dislike Mr. Berman or his religion and want to upset him.

Posted by Concerned Christian
a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I heard about this on Christian radio all the way from the east coast. Obviously, the ones who prohibit this precious man from observing Sukkoth have not read the Old Testament (The Tenach) and understand the power of the God who created us all. The Jewish people are His chosen people and the "apple of his eye". Don't mess with them. Everyone who restrains the worship of the Jewish people has to answer to God Himself. (See the story of Moses and the fate of the Pharoh of Egypt.) The Jewish people have always been welcomed to practice the worship of the God of Abraham in America. America's founding fathers understood this. That is why we have been so blessed. The Hebrews, through Moses, brought us the Ten Commandments, on which the laws of our nation are based. It is engraved at the Supreme Court building. Let the Jewish people observe their feasts, or incur the wrath of God Almighty. Everyone will have to face Him one day. Whether they believe it or not makes no difference. Truth is truth. Just like gravity. It is a natural law one cannot go against. The Jewish people were chosen by God to tell the rest of the world about Him. We would do well to listen to them.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Concerned Christian, this has nothing to do w/your opinion about Jewish being "the chosen people." Did you read the article?

Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 12, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Notice that they are blaming it on an "attorney" who advised them on enforcing a rule so strictly. Not that surprised that an "attorney" made that recommendation, and probably got paid for it. Notice too that the name of the "attorney" is not revealed.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm


Love your solution. He has to remove it in 10 days or fined. Likewise, the Christmas trees can be there for say 30 days before a fine, and perhaps Easter bunnies, for perhaps 7 days then a fine, or Halloween for x days, or flags for 4th July ????

Get the picture.

Posted by Dennis
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 12, 2011 at 5:41 pm

I'm following this with great interest. If the Sukkah issue is decided in Mr. Berman's favor, I'd like to set-up a sweat lodge on the Friday following Thanksgiving to celebrate American Indian Heritage Day.

Posted by In side Scooper
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2011 at 6:42 pm

The latest folks, here goes....Candice Gonzalez of Palo Alto Housing Corporation has just decided to allow both Halloween and Christmas trees, but not the Sukkah. The justification, PAHC is defining the both of the former as holidays, with no religious connections. Now, come on....All Saints Day is a very religious holiday for Catholics, and Halloween has its basis from All Saints Day. Furthermore, the seven day observance of the Sukkot is a holiday, as stated at the beginning of the above article. The PAHC should now really be ashamed of itself for choosing to allow the celebration, and observance of one set of holidays or another. Now, I believe religious intolerance is really evident. For an organization whose mission statement involves providing a public benefit, I would say they are way off their mission statement. And, for a company that should pride itself on the service it provides via housing for low-income residents, PAHC should be ashamed of itself for involving lawyers in such an issue, and for taking such a rigid, and tough stance against an 81 year old person. No wonder our world is so messed up, and no wonder we have no hope during this time........

PAHC should get out of the low-income business. What kind of people are you ????

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Thanks, Inside Scooper, for the update. But here are some corrections re the holidays:

Holidays that began as religious & have "evolved" into non-religious holidays for many still are considered religious by many.

Halloween was NOT the precursor to All Saints & All Souls Days. Samhain was the precursor to Halloween & shares its Celtic roots. That's why Halloween isn't a common holiday in many countries. Nov. 1 & 2, similar to Samhain, were indigenous holidays in Central & South America. When Christianity took over, all three holidays were rolled into All Souls & All Saints, but Halloween, frankly, remained a non-religious holiday to the Christians. Pagan reconstructionists consider it a holiday, however, as do many who proclaim earth-centered spirituality as their faith.

Why these morons consider Christmas trees to be non-religious is silly. It's likely because of the Christmas tree's pagan origins which *seem* non-religious, but it's not - for many. Pagan reconstructionists consider Christmas trees to be a religious symbol.

I can see them deciding on celebrating any non-religious holidays by letting people use the common areas, but they should leave Christmas trees out of it - too controversial. Ditto Halloween - if they want to play it safe. There are a lot of pagans in the area.

For totally non-religious celebrations, they should stick to Arbor Dy, Columbus Day, 4th of July, Valentine's Day, that sort of thing.

Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm


St. Valentine's Day is a religious holiday, so is St. Patrick's Day.

In fact, Thanksgiving was initiated originally specifically to be a non-religious holiday, but it is now treated as a very religious holiday by many churches.

Trying to decide which holiday is religious is not a good idea. The word holiday itself actually means Holy Day.

I think this sums up the nonsense quite nicely.

Posted by In side Scooper
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Thanks Hmmm for your Halloween comments.

An additional latest development.....Apparently, Berman asked for mediation via Project Sentinel (the entity that facilitates the mediation for the City of Palo Alto). Candice Gonzalez of PAHC denied Mr. Berman mediation. This goes against the Palo Alto Municipal code Title 9, Chapter 9.72 which is a part of any rental lease in the city of Palo Alto. The code states that the tenant or Landlord may request mandatory discussion of rental housing disputes.....Hmmm, now it sounds like PAHC is in violation of a local city law, and in addition, they are violating the very same lease they say Mr. Berman would be in violation of if he were to build the Sukkah.

Posted by PalyParent
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 12, 2011 at 8:50 pm

My son's Humanities teacher at Palo Alto High School is requiring all of the students to either visit a house of worship from a religion they don't belong to or to "advertise" another religion and try to "convert" the other students in the class.

According to my son, most students are very uncomfortable with either option. No one wants to intrude on a religious ceremony by taking notes and scrutinizing other people's religions. They also don't want to attempt to "convert" other students.

I do not believe this project should be allowed. It is one thing to have students research religions and present about the religion, but to ask students to participate in a religion other than their own is an entirely different matter.

I know I am getting a bit off track from the posts above, but I would love to hear your opinion about this assignment.

Posted by get it right
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 12, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Wait a second...Christmas is not a religious holiday? Who could have guessed! As someone who does not celebrate Christmas, the very public manifestations (including school assemblies with holiday songs) do bother me at times. Being a member of a minority group, I realize there is nothing much I can do. I do wonder if people be posting on this thread if not for the words "Christmas tree" in the title.

PalyParent, students have often attended services at my synagogue. If they are uncomfortable, they hide it well! I have been to services at churches in a variety of denominations. Opening yourself to new cultural experiences is a way to learn and grow, and also may help you develop tolerance, perhaps even appreciation for the customs of others.

Posted by PalyParent
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2011 at 1:35 am

Religious experiences are not just cultural experiences. And, depending on the religion, this can be a "bad" experience. I know this is unlikely, but what if a child gets converted/recruited because of a visit. It can happen, right? Or am I over reacting here? And, I am not a teen, but I would also be uncomfortable visiting a house of worship from a religion I don't belong to. I would not want to "advertise" another religion and try to "convert" the other students in the class. Maybe I am really over reacting, but I find this project just wrong. I prefer to respect other people's religion without intruding.

Posted by Perspective
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 13, 2011 at 6:07 am

Let's put it this funded property, not privately owned by a group or an individual. Common area used for anything private for any reason. Imagine the uproar if an American Flag were put up, God forbid!! Imagine the horror of a Christian altar for Communion for the week. Imagine the gnashing of teeth if a Cross were placed on a wall during Lent.. imagine..well, you get the idea.

This is a reality of public vs private property. "All may or none may" has to be the rule we follow.

Posted by It's Simple
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2011 at 7:26 am

I'm heartened to see the general outpouring of support for Mr. Berman. I'm appalled that the PAHC has not taken this opportunity to work out a more reasonable policy for the temporary use of common areas. A pragmatic approach would be to let the Sukkah go up, and meanwhile develop some guidelines, get reactions from the tenants, and try the policy for a year. Whether Christmas trees are Christian--they are, look at the name Christmas, which comes from Christ Mass--or pagan--they are of pagan origin--is immaterial. A solution is simple and within reach if people are reasonable.

Instead, the PAHC is looking more and more rigid, arbitrary, and bureaucratic. This has become a battle where a sensible rule about cluttering up common areas has been applied unreasonably to a harmless celebration.

Please, PAHC, make this into a win-win situation, rather than a Mr. Berman loses, Christmas trees vanish, and you look like a triumphant bunch of grinches.

Posted by To-See-The-Sky
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2011 at 7:49 am

Most people are not aware of the arcana of other people's religions, so the need to build a "sukkah" at this time of year is probably something most of us will not understand. Here's a little additional information about these structures and practices that go on in these structures:

Web Link

It seems that "sukkahs" are personal structures (at least intended for one family to use), so if there were more people in an apartment complex who wanted to, or needed to, build their own "sukkahs", just how much room in the common area would there be?

Christmas trees, by the way, are not a defined part of the Christian religion, as "sukkahs" seem to be. They are clearly associated with Christmas, but not in a theological way. A family could very easily celebrate Christmas without a tree. (Of course, the kids in the family might be just a little more than unhappy if there were no tree.)

Maybe it's time to recognize that a religious custom that traces its origins back to the mythical time when Hebrews lived in the desert because they had failed to observe the commands of their deity (remember the story of the golden calf?) should be modified to accommodate people's living in dense, multistory urban dwellings where the "open sky" is not available to anyone in the building.

People who need to observe these sorts of religious requirements should find places where there is plenty of room for them to do what they need to do on their own private spaces, not common, or public spaces.

The PAHC is doing the right thing here.

Posted by get it right
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2011 at 8:13 am

People living in apartment complexes don't put up multiple Christmas trees -- or sukkahs. You don't "need" a sukkah to celebrate Sukkot, and it is not in itself a religious object. Many families share the same one. So much for those arguments!

PalyParent, all you can do as a parent is try to instill your own values and beliefs in your child. Although I have not heard about the exercise of trying to convert another, I think it's valuable for kids to appreciate the power that religion has exerted over the centuries -- not always for good. Nor is it a bad thing to occasionally challenge your own beliefs, religious and otherwise. I'd rather have my children question the precepts of the religion in which they were raised than blindly adhere to a set of beliefs they may not have ever pondered.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2011 at 8:22 am

Interesting way this discussion is taking.

If more people had attended a class like Paly Parent's humanities class, there might be more tolerance.

Having said that however, I don't think it sounds appropriate. To my mind, if the teacher wants the students to learn about other religions, that is great. I think the teacher should have a list of places of worship with a contact phone number for any student who wishes to visit and perhaps a group of students could attend together with the place of worship providing a guest teacher to sit with them and answer any questions. An arrangement like that with both parties realising that this is a "field trip" sounds as if it could work. Otherwise it sounds too weird and uncomfortable.

Likewise, this trying to "convert" someone else is not on. It is just making a mockery of the particular religion. Doing research and a classtime presentation would be much more appropriate.

But I do like the idea of learning about other religions. History, music and art are subjects which cannot be taught properly without a basic knowledge of world religions. Similarly, world current affairs needs a basic understanding of religion and religious history to fully understand. For instance, the various conflicts in the middle east are not modern, they are ancient prejudices caused by one man taking a woman who he shouldn't have as a concubine and making her pregnant. The resulting baby and the legitimate heir from his wife were the beginnings of the two sides that are now in conflict. Understanding this religious fact is an important factor in understanding the hatred.

I hope that Paly Parent's student manages to learn the basics in a comfortable manner. Speaking with the teacher personally may be in order.

Posted by PalyParent
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2011 at 8:51 am

Resident, thank you for your reply. I completely agree with you that learning about other religions can be positive. I don't like assignment. I think the idea of sending kids on their own to visit other religion's house of worship and creating advertisement to "convert" others are just wrong.

Posted by JO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2011 at 9:40 am

Back to the Sheridan Apartments -- A quick Google search brought up this 1998 ordinance of the City of Palo Alto, which says the City contributed a total of $2,500,000 to PAHC to acquire and rehabilitate the Sheridan Apartments.

Web Link

Doesn't the City have some responsibility to assure that PAHC manages the Sheridan in a nondiscriminatory and reasonable way? Doesn't PAHC have a responsibility to the taxpayers of Palo Alto to act in a non-arbitrary, non-discriminatory and reasonable way? What safeguards did the City of Palo Alto put in place when it handed over $2.5 million to PAHC to assure that PAHC would not act as a tyrannical and oppressive landlord? Shouldn't the City have such safeguards in place before handing over millions of dollars?

Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 13, 2011 at 10:34 am

what next?...... banning mezuzahs on the exterior entrance to an apartments. How about christmas wreaths, bless this house plaques, native person spirt catchers, the occasional potted plant near the exterior entrance to apartments some might contain garden saints gnomes or fairies (the later clearly pagan)?

Posted by In side Scooper
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2011 at 10:47 am

To resident above, actually, The PAHC did try to ban mezuzahs on the exterior entrance of apartments in their Alma Place apartments years ago. They backed off once they researched the meaning of the mezuzah. Now, as Halloween approaches, people have Halloween decorations on their doors at The Sheridan Apartments. According to the very same lease PAHC says Berman must adhere to, this is a no, no....:). Sounds like, PAHC has some "splaining to do".

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Here in the US, holidays are confusing re their "religiousness" because we're a melting pot that's become very commercialized. However, what matters much of the time is the perspective of the person celebrating the holiday. To most, Halloween isn't a religious holiday & their decorations reflect that. Ditto Valentine's Day, for example. Those whose perspective is religious generally demonstrate that in their choice of decorations. I think their choice of Christmas trees as nonreligious is a mistake because so many people who view Christmas as a religious holiday have trees & other decor that is Christian. This shows that these decision makers really lack wisdom & thoughtfulness.

It'd be nice if they could just err on the side of tolerance OR, if they don't want to deal w/the minutiae of tolerance, make sure that they're not any local laws while so doing.

As for Paly Parent - the assignment is disturbing, imo. I studied comparative religions in college & an assignment trying to convince someone is just too weird, imo. When I was at Paly, there were some girls who were really trying to scare kids into joining their church - it was pretty freaky.

Posted by another parent
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm


I agree what Resident that being educated about religions is important, but I don't think you are over reacting to your son's humanities teacher's approach.

For example, it's apparently inappropriate for some religions to "convert" someone. Watch the Sex and the City episode with Charlotte looking to become jewish and the rabbi rejects her several times before taking her in. I think the point is that staying away from converting people is a sign of respect for that person.

A high school teacher has no place to invite, incite and certainly can't possibly require that a student partake in a religious experiment, as innocent as it could be. Not only because it's probably against the law for a school to coerce a religious experience but because it flies in the face of religious understanding and respect for others' beliefs. What if partaking of such an assignment offends and violates a particular student's or his family's own religion?

A Christmas tree, or the "booth" described here are different in that they are legal rights of religious expression, not actively soliciting a person to do anything but to respect that expression.

If your teacher or the school can't understand your concerns, I would tell them that the assignment is against your religion, and request that instead your student present his/her research on one or ten religions, without the need to physically or emotionally experience a religious ceremony that is not their own.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Another Parent - Sex & the City - really? Was that the first example that came to mind, lol? I remember that episode. Many religions are against proselytizing. I think parents can justifiably complain about this assignment. Even roleplaying in class trying to get a convert can demonstrate how uncomfortable it is w/out making it an outside assignment.

I'm just grateful that our dogs scare away the Jehovah's Witnesses!

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Like several people mentioned, Christmas trees aren't a strictly "Christian" tradition. They became associated with Christianity, but so did Halloween a few centuries ago. No one would accuse a jack-o-lantern of being a religious symbol.

In fact, I know quite a few non-Christians -- including Jews, Hindus and even Atheists -- who set up a tree in their living room during the holidays. I guess that the only thing that is "Christian" about it is found in its name.

Besides, the US has had a long tradition of recognizing Christian traditions (despite revisionists claim). In fact, Sunday used to be considered the "Christian Sabbath" and was the original reason that schools and government workplaces were closed on that day.

I think that people would be shocked to see how "religious" society was a hundred years ago -- and they would probably roll their eyes at how "politically correct" some people try to be.

Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Once upon a time there was a father who had two sons, he loved them very much, and they loved him.

One day, one of his sons decided to make his father a picture, so he got out paper and crayons and drew a colorful picture of a ferocous tiger, with fangs and claws. When the father received the picture he was delighted and praised it and his son, so the son got out his paper and crayons again and drew another picture, this time of a huge and scary bear.

The other son saw this and thought he too would like to draw his father a picture, so he got paper and crayons and drew a picture of a house on a hill with trees and birds and a big yellow sun.

The first son saw what the second son was doing and corrected him. "Our father likes pictures of big and scary animals, why don't you draw him a wolf?" The second son relied "But I don't WANT to draw a wolf, I want to draw a house on a hill." Soon the two sons were fighting over what they should be drawing.

The father noticed the fighting and came to stop it nad find what it was all about. When he found out he said "I really don't CARE who you show me you love me, I only want you to love me. What distresses me very much is to see my two sons, whom I love dearly, fighting."

Can we all just please forget the crap over how we worship and allow each other to worship in peace?

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2011 at 4:21 pm

It's not about worshiping in peace or not. It's about the religious usage of public space & the lame handling on the issue by management. It is also, imo, about tolerance, a tolerance that is too difficult to extend by the management, because then it requires even handling & ongoing oversight - beyond their purview AND abilities, it would seem.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Personally, I wouldn't mind if any person from any faith tries to celebrate their faith in public (or in the foyer of an apartment complex).

I am a Christian, but I have joined in celebrations of Hanukkah and the Passover. I have walked through plenty of Eastern-themed restaurants where various statues (of the Buddha or Hindu deities) were in full display.

I seriously doubt that such displays are really converting anyone to a particular religion anyway.

Posted by get it right
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Only Christians see Christmas trees as secular. The rest of us see them as associated with a religious holiday. While we don't begrudge you displaying your trees, it never hurts to respect the boundaries of the minorities who do not share the majority religion.

I am surprised at the parents who are uneasy about the child visiting a church/temple/synagogue that is associated with another faith. This is Palo Alto! Are you afraid your child will be kidnapped? Brainwashed? My daughter had a similar assignment and my only concern was whether the person giving her a ride was a safe driver.

In the cocoon that is Palo Alto, it is all too easy to place too much emphasis on a child feeling comfortable. I hope my kids have challenges during their education where they feel uncomfortable (not unsafe, not in danger -- just out of their comfort zones). Those are moments when they will be forced to think, and they might even learn something new.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Hi get it right,

I know of several non-Christians who have trees during the holidays. Not only are they not offended by the ancient pagan tradition, they set one up and decorate it every year. I don't know how widespread this might be, but it does happen.

I agree that we can often get stuck in a "cocoon" and that things a little too far. The key is to respect those around us who might not agree with our own particular social, religious or political views.

There are plenty of pagan things that were incorporated into religious traditions. Easter eggs (even the name "Easter" is pagan), Christmas trees, cathedrals, etc... Likewise, there are Christian things that became part of secular culture. The pretzel has its roots in Christian tradition, but that doesn't stop people from enjoying them at soccer games in Giza, Tel Aviv or Mumbai.

In fact, I don't mind that there are so many reference to ancient Roman, Greek or Norse mythological names in astronomy or the days of the week.

If the respect of faith (and the First Amendment) are important enough, we shouldn't be bothered by such things. As a civilized society, we should be made of sterner stuff.

Posted by another parent
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 13, 2011 at 5:12 pm

get it right,

I think it's one thing if you are invited to a friend's wedding or holiday celebration of a different religion, and you're a formal guest. You might be uncomfortable if you're asked to stand up or sing a tune that's out of your comfort zone. You graciously attend because of your friend, and respect for his/her beliefs.

Completely different to crash a religious service in the name of research. But more importantly, asking a young person to pray, or sing to something they don't believe in is not like asking them to try a new vegetable. It could be more like asking a vegetarian to eat a steak.

If the teacher's goal is to respect religious beliefs, it would not hurt to respect the boundaries of individuals towards religion itself, and how those boundaries may include refraining from attending religious services that are not their own.

You can judge it as fear on the parent's part, I see it as courage to ask the teacher to be respectful of a student's or families' boundaries regarding their own belief system.

Posted by get it right
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2011 at 5:37 pm

I don't know of any church or synagogue in Palo Alto that views guests as "crashers." Every church I have visited seems to welcome guests. (I myself have greeted students who have come to visit my synagogue. Interestingly enough, many have been foreign-born, apparently immune to the taboos that some Palo Altans seem to acquire?) Guests can observe quietly -- like guests. No need for active involvement. As a child I attended many, many Catholic weddings, and I was never expected to participate in mass!

If my religion prohibited me from learning about other religions, I would be asking the people who made the rules what they were worried about. If a religion has a solid, meaningful foundation, members will not be so easily lured to another faith. If the religious leaders are afraid of competition -- well, maybe they need to improve their product.

There are Jews and other non-Christians who have their own Christmas trees. But they do call them "Christmas" trees. Hey, there are Jews that eat pork too! To each her/his own, but please don't try to pretend that your Christmas tree is no different from El Palo Alto, only a little shorter.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2011 at 6:03 pm

get it right got it wrong - reread why the parents are concerned about the kids' assignment - it has everything to do w/respect.

Posted by Lee (Leona Caruso)
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I live in the same apartment complex as Mr. Berman and have for seven years. Every year Mr. Berman put up his Sukkon and I thought it was wonderful. It never inerferred with anyone and seems like a festive occasion. It was for only one week. When the service was over they would share some of the food that was left. I am not Jewish but always enjoyed this very happy time for these people. It is sad when, all of a sudden the establishment says that it cannot continue. The times we live in now need more of these religious affairs to soften some of the harsh blows that the government is sending us. "If there cannot be peace within our society. How can there be peace in the world?"

Posted by get it right
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2011 at 6:52 pm

I'm reminded of a classic song from the musical South Pacific:

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

Posted by Mona
a resident of Ventura
on Oct 13, 2011 at 10:43 pm

The holiday of Sukkot, a harvest thanksgiving, called the Feast of Tabernacles in English is probably the origin of our American Thanksgiving? The Pilgrims knew their Hebrew scripture. One of the essential ideas of the sukkah is that it is temporary and fragile, as our lives. The sukkah will be torn down in only a week.

Posted by another parent
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 13, 2011 at 11:59 pm

get it right,

For all your preaching of tolerance, you don't sound too tolerant when you say

"please don't try to pretend that your Christmas tree is no different from El Palo Alto, only a little shorter."

I'm not Christian, but you just assumed I was Christian, or you wouldn't have said something about "my" Christmas tree.

Taking your example of to each his own, that some jews eat pork, others not. I'm sure there are jews that could feel uncomfortable about going to pray in a church, others not. How about respecting both.

There should be an opt out on being taught about religion by attending someone else's observances, if it makes someone of any religion uncomfortable. This isn't safe sex, or bike safety.

Posted by Sheridan Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2011 at 12:02 am

I have lived at the Sheridan apartments for over six years. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Several neighbors resented the fact that they took over the patio for their holiday but were afraid of confrontation and did not say anything. I commend the current administration for taking a stand and being fair. Keep it up PAHC!

Posted by another parent
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 14, 2011 at 12:38 am

By the way, sorry the topic about the teacher who requires students to attend religious services is not about the original post.

Different issues - to let people be free to observe their own religion from coercing someone to do something religious.

Posted by PalyParent
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2011 at 2:00 am

I really appreciate all the responses about the Humanities teacher's assigment. At one point I was thinking I was just over reacting. I will send a message to the teacher about my son and how he is not confortable about advertising or attending other peoples religion. Sorry it was off track from the original post.

I wonder how other parents feel about this current assigment. I am not sure if all parents know about it, since many teens don't share all is happening in school with their parents. I know my son does not usually likes me to get involved, and sometimes he "forgets" to tell me things that are bothering him. This religion project is something that many kids are not happy with, and parents have not been notified about it....

Posted by get it right
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2011 at 8:03 am

I would ask my kid "why does this make you uncomfortable?" rather than say "if it makes you uncomfortable, don't do it!" That's how bigotry and small-mindedness is born and nurtured. I do encourage my kids to push their boundaries. Don't be afraid, Palo Alto parents! It's empowering for them to confront their fears and overcome them. Especially in this case, when there is nothing particularly scary or dangerous about setting foot in an unfamiliar house of worship.

P.S. I am not assuming that anyone on this thread follows any particular religion. The use of "you" is a stylistic choice to avoid "one" or some other unfortunate construct, given that our language, so rich in other respects, is lacking in an indeterminate third person single pronoun.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2011 at 8:38 am

We have two subjects here which is very telling.

The pc nature of present society is shocking. The fact that Christmas trees, or cards, or decorations, have become holiday trees,, or cards, or decorations, Rudolph the red nosed reindeer is called a Christmas carol rather than a song about the birth of baby Jesus, etc. is the beginning of prevention of any type of religious observance not allowed because it might offend someone, is undoubtedly getting ridiculous.

Whether we have a tree in City Hall plaza, lights on the trees on University Avenue, a nativity scene in a shopping mall, or a cross that has been there for decades on public property are all sad versions of the same sorry tale. I would much rather increase the number of efforts to beautify our surroundings with eye pleasing art and decorations which are meaningful to some members of our community rather than do away with what we already have only to replace them with ugly modern art that seems to be recent practice.

A beautiful cross, or Buddha, can still be seen for things of beauty regardless of the religious emotions for those of that particular religion, rather than an ugly piece of strangely formed concrete or metal.

When it comes to allowing a temporary display of religious belief, we should be looking at it as an opportunity to learn about that religion rather than as an affront.

As far as feeling uncomfortable learning about a different religion, that is very different to being told to visit a different religion's worship service. If our students are uncomfortable learning in school about a different religion then they must learn to step out of their comfort zone and experience the encompassing education that makes us better human beings. Going to a different religion and performing religious "rites" is a very different experience.

I don't have to partake of gay sex to understand that I should tolerate gay lifestyle. I don't have to practice circumsicion on my sons to understand that it should remain legal. I don't have to attend a different religion's house of worship to understand what they believe.

I give value to the requirement to learn about different religions, whether it be part of a school course or learning to live with my neighbor and share in their displays. I take it as very wrong as forcing the experience on any one.

Posted by another parent
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 14, 2011 at 10:39 am

get it right,

Interesting suggestions you have about how I should talk to my kids, and learning about how you would handle religious education. And for alerting me to the idea that if my kids are uncomfortable about this assignment, I could cure their potential bigotry by insisting they make a poster advertising someone else's religion. That should do it.

I await more tips on what you think is right and how I can be cured.

Posted by In side Scooper
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I am certain that the comment from Sheridan Resident above is in fact from The PAHC, and not an actual Sheridan Resident. We can see through your stunts!

Posted by JO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm

I don't know if Sheridan Resident is who s/he claims to be, but I think that the term "bully" more aptly describes someone who anonymously posts character assassinations on an online blog.

Posted by In side Scooper
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Well said JO. Amazing how the PA community at large has stayed above objectionable commentary, and then all of a sudden a person supposedly from the very community of subject would stoop to name calling, etc. Let's be adults about this. Afterall, we as the adults should be the examples to the children of the world.

Posted by Mr Berman sukkah OK
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm

I want to say yes with what Leona Caruso say about Mr. Berman not bothering people. I feel not easy about agree with Mr Berman because I see how the PAHC office can treat people they not like. I feel to many times they do what is good for PAHC office not people who live at Sheridan apartments. Excuse my English please but I say from my heart with love for America freedom to be OK with everybody and all religions.

To person who signed Sheridan Resident, who say Bermans are bully, I think you are PAHC office trying to make trouble. Shame on you.

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 14, 2011 at 8:31 pm

The whole thing smells like another under employed lawyer trying to make money.

These cases always come up at the same time of year--every year

The SCOTUS has defined the law on these matters.

But times are very sad and hard economically for lawyers these day--they have an over supply and an under-demand for their time.

Posted by Aquarian
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Oct 14, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Much ado about nothing! This 81 year old man has done this for years and there is no reason to think he has disturbed anyone. The administration is way out of line here. The managers responsible should be removed from their positions immediately because it is obvious that they are incompetent.

Posted by outrageous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2011 at 11:23 am

Unbelievable!!! The Palo Alto Housing Corporation's new rule is so offensive to every tenant. They need to be like Netflix, and back pedal, and fast!!! Before the tenants refuse to pay their rent and other ways of making a statement about the corporation's housing practices!

Posted by Friend of Abe
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 16, 2011 at 7:47 pm

I know Abe personally. He is a gentle kind hearted man who would never offend anyone. Abe is deeply religious. To Abe the Succah isn't merely a symbol, it is not just a tradition, it is an absolute law that he is distraught over being forced to forgo. Surely by the time Christmas comes around the housing authority will determine that only the Succah is a religious symbol, because abolishing the Christmas tree will create an uproar. The manager should be let go and replaced with one who will not bring this horrible anti-semitic publicity to the Palo Alto Housing Corp. Rules are made to keep tenants happy, not to destroy their religions.

Posted by JO
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2011 at 12:13 am

Item #13 on the City Council agenda Monday night (Oct. 17) is "Approval of Agreement with PAHC Housing Services, LLC for Administration and Consulting Services for Up to Two Years in an Amount Not to Exceed $165,000 Per Year for the Below Market Rate Housing Program."

PAHC has administered the BMR program for the City of Palo Alto for many years. But how can the City continue to have such a landlord continue to administer its BMR program?

Posted by Glad to be out of low income housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2011 at 9:27 am

This sort of action should be no surprise to anyone ever involved with the PAHC. Not a particularly good agency, and not one that should even be involved in housing for low-income people. The PA city council should entertain other options for the administration of the BMR program. I used to live at the Arastradero Park Apartments. Around the end of 2006, up until I moved in 2009, the downtown office got a new director of property management, who is not a competent manager, or even a decent person. Every day, we would come home to notices on our door, and people were afraid every day of losing their housing. The city of Palo Alto, HUD, and everyone else involved with this agency should do a thorough investigation of its practices. Many of the residents in their properties just feel happy to have a roof over their head, but most would rather live some where else that does not involve the PAHC. If the PAHC has any hope of redeeming itself in the community, and to its residents, its time to overall their management system and bring in people who are capable of working with the residents, applying the rules fairly, and by using common sense. All who made this decision regarding the sukkah should be removed, and replaced with decent human beings.

Posted by PAHC's Resident Services Program
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 17, 2011 at 1:40 pm

PAHC has a Resident Services Program whose mission is "To empower PAHC residents to achieve self-sufficiency and maximize their full potential through culturally competent onsite services in education, health and social services." <Web Link

Again from the website < Web Link > "PAHC fund-raising efforts are focused on this Program so that services are not offset by rent increases."

In the past, I have contributed to this program but after this incident and the division it has created will now choose to contribute elsewhere; somewhere that values our city's diversity and finds ways that help to bring people together.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm

Can Mr. Berman be offered to erect it elsewhere if this isn't resolved in his favor? Or, does Jewish law state that it has to be close to his residence?

Posted by Another Sukkah Supporter
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2011 at 3:55 pm

In addition to the sukkah situation, PAHC discriminates with respect to housing. My friend showed up for an appointment for an apartment at Oak Manor Townhomes last week because she was mailed a letter to come in on Tuesday, October the 11th. When she showed up to the office, the manager said the apartment vacancy had been filled. Why wouldn't the manager phone her in advance to say the apartment was already taken, or allow her to complete the application process for another apartment? Certainly with 20 apartment buildings, they will have upcoming open places. But, they took one look at her, as they know of her from the past, and they concocted a story that the specific place had been filled. This is not a fair company that plays by the housing rules. Is there any oversight to this organization from the city of Palo Alto?

Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2011 at 7:11 am

Web Link
Here is the same story substituting an American flag for the sukkah.

Posted by Perspective
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 5, 2011 at 5:46 am

Perspective is a registered user.

Mark, I saw that story and thought the same thing, but then realized that the American Flag flying in..America..where everyone here is not the same thing as a Sukkah or Christmas Tree or Nativity scene at all.

The Flag applies to all of us, and is not religious. Anyone here is in..America.....Religious observances apply to some.

So, in fact, I see them as quite different.

Posted by JO
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 10, 2011 at 6:48 pm

On Monday, Dec. 12, the City Council is going to consider approving a $1.29 million loan to Palo Alto Housing Corporation. Item No. 14 on the Dec. 12, 2011 City Council Agenda is "Approval of an Acquisition Loan in the Amount of $1.29 million with Palo Alto Housing Corporation for the Purchase of 2811-2825 Alma Street.

I think that the City Council needs to assure that, as a landlord, PAHC does not follow discriminatory or non-accommodating policies such as this anti-Sukkah policy, or else the City should not lend money to such a landlord for the acquisition of more rental properties.

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2011 at 7:05 pm

America is

2% Jewish

2.3% Muslim

86 % Christian

If the Christians, who show great tolerance to those of other faiths or no faith, want Christmas trees and Nativity scenes etc

--- that is fine by us.

Posted by Are you kidding
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Dec 10, 2011 at 7:22 pm

The christians show "great tolerance" of non-christians? Are you serious, sharon? Or are you just trying to stir the pot? Clearly you need a reminder of what our country stands for. Great tolerance, indeed. What a stupid comment.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 10, 2011 at 9:40 pm

I will let this thread explain a little about Christian tolerance - nothing to do with Sharon.

Web Link

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 11, 2011 at 7:48 pm

@ Resident

Thanks for the link

The exhibition of Nativity Scenes in the Mormon Temple on Middlefield is a must for all PA kids--outstanding

Posted by saichele
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 11, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Christian tolerance only applies to other religions' holidays that occur in late December and around Easter.

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