Rabbi who prompted La Cueva bear tree removal defends his complaint

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE)- The Rabbi who complained and had a bear Christmas tree removed from La Cueva high school is speaking out. He says he’s not attacking Christmas, he just wants students of all faiths to feel comfortable at school.

The La Cueva teddy bear tree had been a 27-year tradition at the school. Students would donate stuffed animals for needy Albuquerque kids. But that tree came down a few days ago after Rabbi Arthur Flicker, of Albuquerque’s Congregation B’nai Israel, filed a complaint.

“I had a congregant give me a call, said they had been in La Cueva and had saw a Christmas tree,” said Rabbi Flicker.

That person’s son goes to La Cueva and the tree made him feel uncomfortable.

Flicker said, “The school needs to be welcoming and caring for all of its students.”

In turn, APS ordered the tree be removed. It sparked outrage from students and community members.

“I’ve had people send me emails saying I should be fired, saying that I should go back to wherever Jews live, because I’m not welcome in America. The staff at the office today has felt threatened,” said Flicker.

Some people even dropped off their own Christmas trees at the school after the word got out. Rabbi Flicker says he wants to make one thing clear.

Flicker said, “I’m not opposed to Christmas trees. I’m not even opposed to them in schools, if they are done in a way that shows a sharing of religions, in other words, if there were Kwanza signs and Jewish signs and Muslim signs.”

Rabbi Flicker says he only reached out to APS after hearing from the student and his parent. He says he doesn’t go around looking for religious displays in schools.

As for all of the other trees that have been dropped off at La Cueva high school, News 13 has learned that those trees have been donated to local Albuquerque-area charities.

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