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Kerfuffle

First of all, I want to thank all those of you who expressed interest in being on my Jewish filter. I've started working on the first essay to post under that filter, but it's a long one, and it'll probably take a day or two to finish.

Now, on to other Jewish subjects --

My good friend scarlettina has brought to my attention a kerfluffle that took place in Seattle. Apparently, a Hasidic rabbi threatened to sue Seatac Airport because they put up Christmas trees. He wanted them to build an eight-foot-tall menorah and allow a lighting ceremony to take place.

In the words of my ancestors, Oy.

scarlettina also brought my attention to Rabbi Marc Gellman's commentary from the MSNBC/Newsweek site:

So what, as they say in the Talmud, do we learn from all this?  First we learn that the rabbi should never have threatened to sue the airport. (His lawyer now says he won't no matter what happens.)  Using our courts to prohibit the displays of Christmas trees is more than frivolous.  It is stupid, divisive and frivolous.  It generates ill will towards Jews or the ACLU or whoever brings the suit, and it unnecessarily burdens the court.  People who are offended at decorated trees with no angel, no star and no crèche need to get a life, and need to reconsider what constitutes a true offense against the First Amendment.


Amen.
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Comments

kerfluffle or kerfuffle? M-W has the latter? (If you change it, feel free to delete this comment)
Edited. Let this comment stand, as a reminder to all of the importance of consulting dictionaries.
Let this comment stand, as a reminder to all of the importance of consulting dictionaries.

And here I was about to ask "And what do we learn from this?" But good Talmudic scholar that you are, you already gleaned the lesson. :-)
Hm. I'd heard that the rabbi hadn't sued to remove the trees, but to include the menorah; Seatac removed the trees in order to avoid the suit *and* avoid diverting their employees from building a menorah/checking the safety of a menorah built by others during a very busy time for the airport.

In any event, the whole thing has the feeling of 'could have been avoided with a bit more dialogue on both sides'. The news reports I read sounded very much like the rabbi got the brushoff from the airport; the airport version is probably on the order of "Could he have asked us this 6 months ago, when we didn't have the holiday rush to deal with?", and everyone is a day late and a dollar short.

Mind you, I agree that the rabbi shouldn't have threatened to sue. On the gripping hand, though, I am among the people who have a mild objection to any 'holiday' display on public or quasi-public property. Not one where I'd sue, because it takes a truly grievous injury to get me to sue, but it makes me...uneasy. And, as Mr. Gellman advises, I get over it and enjoy the pretty lights, most of the time.
I actually agree with you about having the mild objection to holiday displays on public property. But to me this is such a waste of resources, especially when we have more important issues, like forced prayer in public schools, to fight against.
'd heard that the rabbi hadn't sued to remove the trees, but to include the menorah; Seatac removed the trees in order to avoid the suit...

That is correct.
It does seem to be a problem within chabad to not think to start discussing the issue until after the trees have gone up and then wanting the menorah put up "right now".
Honestly, I've gotten much less tense about equal time in December the last few years. Christmas and Easter are the two huge practice-even-if-you're-not-religious Christian holidays. Hannukkah is really a back burner holiday for us. If the rabbi was that insistant on equality, I'd say leave up the Christmas tree for the 80% of the population that's Christian, and maybe put up some sort of thing for Rosh Hashanah, Pesah, or Sukkot for the 2% of Jews when our time rolls around.
I can see the headlines now: "Chabad erects sukkot at 25 major American airports --- Enables thousands of observant passengers to eat while waiting for connecting flights"
Brilliant! I would love to see that.
I would so love to see that.
Now that would be interesting. Rosh Hashanah: apples and honey cut-outs, shofars, "happy new year" signs. Sukkot boasts perhaps the most obvious and large symbol of any Jewish holiday, the sukkah. But it makes me wonder what we'd put up for Pesach. The ten commandments is already too controversial. And somehow I suspect that blood on the doorposts might raise some eyebrows. :-)
Blood on the jetway? :-)

How about, every passenger at every major airport is issued a lamb.
Yeah, I mean, putting up the sukkah also has implications of welcoming people to come celebrate with you. It seems like it would be much more meaningful for us and for them.
Granted, Hanuka is not a major holiday, much less so than the five biblical holidays. It's certainly less important to us than Xmas is to them.

But the whole point of the menorah is to publicize the miracle. That's why when we light in our homes, we put the menorah by a window or door. So putting menorahs in public spaces seems entirely consistant with the spirit of the holiday, much more so than displays for Pesah or Rosh Hashana would be.
It's bad enough when the gentiles try to equate Christmas and Chanukah. They don't know any better; they're excused. Jews, and especially rabbis, should know better and should set a better example. If they really want to do equal time for major holidays, they should do something for the chagim, Rosh Hashana, and Yom Kippur.

Besides, I don't want my government saying "lookie, we put up a chanukiah for you so our creche is ok".
Is it too late to show interest in being on the Jewish filter? You and I don't always agree on Jewish issues, but I'm interested in what you have to say ...
It is not too late; I'm still writing that first post, so nothing's under it yet.
Jewish filter?

Have I mentioned I'm behind on LJ? By rather a lot?
Information on the Jewish Filter:

http://mabfan.livejournal.com/293975.html
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