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News

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Hills man arrested on molestation charges

Gregory Helfrich

Santa Clara Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a Los Altos Hills man they suspect repeatedly molested a child decades ago.

Detectives arrested Gregory Helfrich, 54, on a warrant at his Old Page Mill Road home April 27 and...

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Schools

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students

Local AAUW gives gift of science to junior high students


Courtesy of Jessica Harell
Blach Intermediate School seventh-grader Paris Harrell, who loves science and animals, recently received a scholarship from the local branch of the AAUW to attend Tech Trek camp.

It’s not every day that a junior hig...

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Community

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner

At 98, former language teacher remains a lifelong learner


Federici

Longtime Los Altos resident Mario Federici, who turned 98 Feb. 24, is a man of many languages. He shared his knowledge with thousands of students during his long career as a teacher.

Federici was born and raised in Italy, where he stud...

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Comment

Attend an event, get involved, have fun: Editorial

You don’t have to run for city council to get involved in the community. Sometimes it can be as simple as attending a Los Altos event. You’ll have plenty of opportunities, as the May and June calendars are bustling with activity.

The Dow...

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Special Sections

Racing around Monterey

Racing around Monterey


Gary Anderson/Special to the Town Crier
The easy handling of the VW Golf R, above, makes for an ideal ride along the Big Sur coast.

 

When automotive journalists are asked to list their favorite places in the world to drive, Monterey alway...

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Business

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations

'Steampunk' eatery toasts local libations


Courtesy of Eureka
Eureka, a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View, highlights local craft beer and whiskeys on a menu of food spanning from sea to farm.

Craft beer and fancy whiskeys headline the menu at Eureka, the new restaurant that opene...

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People

Stepping Out

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'

PA Players seek escape in 'Into the Woods'


Courtesy of Palo Alto Players
The Baker’s Wife, left, and Cinderella’s erstwhile Prince stand out in the Palo Alto Players production of “Into the Woods.”

Little Red Riding Hood sets forth at the outset of “Into the...

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Spiritual Life

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International

Los Altos United Methodist Church service salutes Heifer International


Courtesy of Los ALtos United Methodist Church
Hidden Villa will bring some of its farm animals to Los Altos United Methodist Church Sunday to support the nonprofit Heifer International.

Los Altos United Methodist Church is scheduled to salute th...

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Is the Christmas tree religious?

Is the Christmas tree religious? I am losing sleep, stressing over this question. About two weeks ago I took my kids to their secular private school and the PTA moms were lining the hallway with Christmas decorations. I asked one mom if there would be something for Hanukah and after a momentary blank stare she said, "Uh, yeah, sure, we could put up a menorah."

Fortunately, the next morning an electric menorah and tinseled Jewish star were hung in the hallway. Though I was relieved, part of me felt uncomfortable about the whole thing. That I had to ask for this took a slight bite out of the latke. It wasn't until I noticed the Christmas trees in every classroom, did my head spin like a dreidel.

To me, this was a classic case of church and state. Don't get me wrong. I love Christmas trees. But I must draw the glittery line at school. After much persecution for what one believed, our forefathers had the right idea when they came up with that one. One reigning religion does not teach tolerance to others - never has, never will. I had initially decided on a secular school for many reasons, one being diversity. I wanted my kids to be exposed to all walks, jogs, runs, ethnicities and cultures in life.

After being dragged to Silicon Valley because of a job opportunity, there was nothing like a Christmas tree in my child's classroom to make me want to escape back to the East.

There were many Jewish families in our small town in Connecticut, and many more Christian and Catholic families who kept their trees in their living rooms.

I went to the next PTA meeting.

"I'm a strong supporter of separating church and state," I said. "It's inappropriate to have a tree in every class."

"Well, it's been a tradition at this school," said PTA CEO.

"But this is not a Catholic school. This is a secular school. The Christmas tree is a religious - ..." CEO mom stopped me. "The Christmas tree is not religious."

Huh? Since when? When did I miss this news event? If that were the case then why aren't trees brought in the home in February? And isn't that pointy thing on top of the tree called the "Star of Bethlehem" and isn't this star symbolic of the "coming of the Lord," Bethlehem being the birthplace of Jesus Christ? And why is it called a "Christmas" tree?

"I disagree," I said.

"Well, we can't please everyone." Heads bobbed. Then CEO mom said, "Why don't you bring some Hanukah things?"

Defeated, I bobbed my head, too. I was in the minority. But what became more distressing to me was that these moms had absolutely no idea. They were bought, wrapped and sent to the school of commercialism of Christmas, where they believe that Santa and a tinseled tree have no religious connotation to themselves and others. They have no idea that I have an uncle-in-law who won't step foot in a house that has a Christmas tree because his parents were killed in the Holocaust. They have no idea of the negative symbolism the tree can exude to any practicing Jew.

Luckily my kids care about their heritage and are looking forward to Hanukah. I think they may even feel somewhat special because they are the only ones in school who are "different."

If giving children an identity is a strong foundation for their lives, then this holiday season will reemphasize to them how important it is to be proud of who you are.

In January I will be exchanging my license plates on my car for California ones. My current ones are from Connecticut, "The Constitution State." Because I am in one minority and because I otherwise love this school, I will have to decide if I want to give up part of the constitution.

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