SDSU Bookstore in a one-holiday spirit, ignores Jewish faith


Talia Raoufpur

Christmas decorations at the SDSU Bookstore on Nov. 10.

by Talia Raoufpur, Staff Columnist

It is that time of year again when people take down their Halloween decorations, sip the last of their pumpkin spice latte and mentally prepare for the hectic and expensive holiday season. Many of us commemorate the holidays by decorating our homes and dorms with trees, ornaments, menorahs and dreidels.

Retailers do it, too.

For example, Starbucks serves coffee in nondenominational red cups and its gift card collection depicts multiple holidays — including Christmas and Chanukah. Department stores like Nordstrom engage in the holiday spirit in a similar fashion. While most of their stores feature a prominent Christmas tree in the heart of the store, their holiday collections also include Chanukah themed socks, sweaters, pillows and mugs, adorned with traditional Jewish symbols and phrases.

As a Jewish student, I feel that my faith and the holidays I celebrate are being ignored by the SDSU bookstore. At a university whose Jewish student population was ranked 59th in the nation by Hillel International and is governed by a Jewish president, why is Christmas the only holiday on display? There are trees of various sizes adorned with ornaments all over the store. The bookstore might only be trying to encourage consumerism and milk a few extra dollars out of students and their families, but there should be a balance of Christmas and Chanukah décor throughout.

I asked a manager for an explanation and he said that they were expecting a shipment of Chanukah decorations soon and have plans to implement them somewhere in the store. This was two weeks ago — where are they? Not a single Chanukah decoration has been put in since our conversation.

The lack of Jewish representation by the bookstore in unjust. Perhaps he was attempting to save his face and shirk responsibility, but his manner was dismissive and explanation unacceptable. How does SDSU, a public school whose curriculum does not correspond with any specific religion, have no issue with its bookstore engaging in religious favoritism?

I am tired of my faith being forgotten. Like Christmas, Chanukah is a remarkable holiday worthy of recognition. I feel betrayed by a retail establishment in which I have spent hundreds of dollars. I want to be excited about the holidays like anyone and have the validation of experience Christians must encounter with their various accoutrements garishly displayed everywhere they turn.

Chanukah entails eight nights of celebration while reminding ourselves of just another one of the tumultuous battles the Jews fought in order to exercise our religious freedom. Who would have thought, that as Jews, we would be continuing this fight, 2000 years later?

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