Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Score one for Christmas and common sense!

I read this story a couple of days ago and just marked it up as par for the course-

Airport Christmas Trees Gone After Rabbi's Request

So I was pleasantly surprised to see this article today-

Trees Being Returned to SeaTac Airport

Seems that the airport was just covering it's self in case of a lawsuit. Better to please no one than to offend some one, you know.

But, it's important to note that the Rabbi did NOT ask for the trees to be removed, only that a menorah ALSO be included. One he was willing to provide even. The conflict came when,

Airport managers believed that if they allowed the addition of an 8-foot-tall menorah to the display, as Seattle Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky had requested, they would also have to display symbols of other religions and cultures, which was not something airport workers had time for during the busiest travel season of the year, Airport Director Mark Reis said earlier Monday.

So, for this year, it'll be 'holiday trees' but no menorah. Next year however,

"A key element in moving forward will be to work with the rabbi and other members of the community to develop a plan for next year's holiday decorations at the airport," the port statement said.

The rabbi has also offered to give the port an electric menorah to display, said his lawyer, Harvey Grad.

"We are not going to be the instrument by which the port holds Christmas hostage," Grad said, emphasizing the rabbi never sought removal of the trees, but addition of the menorah.

I have no problem with celebrating other holidays alongside Christmas, especially religious ones. Hopefully, that will mean we can start putting the 'Christ back in Christmas' so to speak. (As opposed to the UK, where only one in 100 Christmas cards sold in Britain contains any religious imagery or message.)

I am annoyed however at the folks who sent nasty letters and emails to the rabbi-

The rabbi had received "all kinds of calls and emails," many of them "odious," Grad said, adding he was "trying to figure out how this is consistent with the spirit of Christmas."

If we have to get nasty, then we have already lost.



At December 13, 2006 12:09 AM, Blogger Alicia said...

You put that well, thanks. I especially liked your contrast between fearing to offend anyone / pleasing everyone.

Religious expressions in public (specifically Christmas, here) have always been complicated--it's just hard to give freedom to and celebrate different traditions while at the same time respecting that issues of truth are involved. I've always struggled to keep Christ at the center of Christmas (rather than taking Him out, like the cards). When people fight that because they're offended, that's one thing...when they fight it because they want to see their beliefs and traditions respected as well, that's something else entirely.

I hope that airport does get its menorah up next year, and that they have time to plan all the symbols they'll choose to display.


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