Thursday, December 14, 2006

Airport tree controversy

In my hometown of Seattle, there's a controversy because a Chabad Rabbi wanted to put up a menorah (candelabra) commemorating the Festival of Chanukah. They (airport) said no and he threatened a lawsuit so the airport took down the trees. He then dropped the lawsuit and got together with Toward Tradition (conservative Jewish organization politically, not religiously) and the trees were restored.

Personally, this is bothersome because I don't feel that as an Orthodox Jew, I need to fight to put up a Christmas tree and also, while Persumei Nisa (publicizing the Hanukah miracle) is important, the airport wasn't the right place for it.

I wish that Toward Tradition (TT) and Chabad would stop trying to claim to speak for all religious Jews on this issue.

We have a country of 300 million and there's enough room to celebrate Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, the Haji, etc. Live and let live, this ain't 1850's Poland.


Anonymous Moshe said...

Maybe so, but it wasn't just the Chbabad rabbi that was out of line here. Somehow Chabad manages to put up public Chanukiahs in every other major city -- Los Angeles, New York, even here in Chicago, (not to mention other countries around the world) -- without incident. What makes Seattle think that it is so special to be the only major city in the USA where putting up a Chanukiah in public is a problem.

Our tradition teaches us that we used to put Chanukiyot outside of our homes but at some point we started lighting inside of our homes. One of the reasons offered is because in the exile Jews were scared of what Gentiles might do to them if they publicly practiced their religion. I always thought that America was supposed to be different, that it was supposeds to be OK to publicly celebrate your religion here. But if a Jew who tries to put up a Chanukiah in public is told to shut up and go celebrate in private where nobody has to see you, then maybe America isn't so different after all.

December 17, 2006 10:48 PM  

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