Tuesday, December 12, 2006

War on Chanukkah Update

The holiday situation at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has been resolved. Christians can now sleep soundly, knowing that their Christmas trees are safe and back on display at Sea-Tac airport. Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky assured Port officials that he would not file a lawsuit to force them to allow a menorah display. The rabbi said, as he has many times since this began, that it was never his desire to have the trees removed; that he wanted to "add light to the holiday, not diminish any light."

Chabad's menorah, however, will not be displayed this year. And there has been a predictable antisemitic backlash. The Anti-Defamation League reports that the rabbi received hundreds of hate mail messages related to this situation. Many synagogues and other Jewish organizations completely unrelated to this situation, organizations outside of the Seattle area and unaffiliated with Chabad, have also received disturbing messages, and are considering the need for security during Chanukkah celebrations.

FYI: The news stories about the resolution of the situation give some more detail about how the misunderstanding arose. A member of Chabad who is a construction consultant for the airport approached a Port staffer in October or November, as the Christmas displays were going up. However, he was given the runaround for several weeks, through many people who told him different things about whether a menorah would be allowed. The law is clear, however, and the rabbi's attorney sent Port officials a legal memorandum laying out what the law has to say in these cases. This may well have been the first time that the proper levels of the Port heard about Chabad's request. Legal experts agree that the Port could have allowed the menorah along with its Christmas trees in such a way that it would not have been an endorsement of religion, and that would have been the end of it. But the Port officials panicked and took down the trees instead.

News links (please note: the linked articles, like any news items, may be removed at any time):

3 comments:

Hanukkah said...

There is a great article from Chabad regarding this at http://www.chabad.org/455712

JewFAQ said...

On the day before the first night of Chanukkah, the worst windstorm in more than a decade struck western Washington state, with record winds at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Many flights were cancelled, and a power outage left one of the concourses dark.

http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=webtravel15&date=20061215

http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=stormweather16&date=20061216

http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis.cgi/web/vortex/display?slug=wrjudd17&date=20061217

Thunket said...

"Christmas" is neither biblical nor christian. The fact that they would throw such a hissy over it, and not let Chabad put up a menorah, which IS biblical, just shows how many magic mushrooms they've eaten.