Sunday, December 10, 2006


Elazar Bogomilsky, a Lubavitcher rabbi probably overcome with Hannuka cheer, must have felt neglected and forlorn when he noticed the nine sizable Christmas trees adorning Sea-Tac airport, while not a hint was there anywhere of the Jewish festival of lights about to start next week.

I must say, having just come back from downtown Montreal, I can't help but sympathize. I took my daughter to see a play and then we went on a tour of the famous Christmas decorations that are put up for the holiday season, namely the Ogilvy Christmas Window display , and Place Montréal Trust’s gigantic, five-storey tall Christmas tree. Nowhere in sight was there even a suggestion of awareness of the Hannuka holiday. It made my daughter sad. It made me impatient to get on the Metro and go back home. There is just so much of Christmas cheer one can absorb with good grace on a Sunday afternoon.

I'm afraid Jewish holidays are not much of a concern in this province. A Metro transit station is named after l'Abbé Lionel Groulx, one of the fathers of Quebec nationalist movement who was also a Hitler sympathizer and an active antisemite. A nation that honours a man with such a record can hardly be expected to be sensitive to the cultural needs of its Jewish minority.

So it's thoroughly refreshing to read about this Seattle melee. The rabbi, it says here:

"who last month asked that a menorah be displayed, said he was "appalled" by the Port's reaction to what he believed to be a simple request. There are public menorah lightings at the White House and cities across the Northwest, he said. Next week, Gov. Christine Gregoire will help light a menorah under the Capitol Dome in Olympia."

Yes, I would say that the Port's reaction was quite pigheaded, hardly in line with the benign spirit of Christmas. Noone suggested the sight of the lit up trees was offensive. But by removing them, the Port's administration was acting as though that was the motivation underlying the request to put up the Menorah, thereby all but smearing the good rabbi's intentions.

Should they reconsider their decision, (as they indeed should), I'd suggest they install, next to the Menorah, the aluminum pole, ("very high strength-to-weight ratio") of Festivus for all those rest of us who are heartily fed up with religious quarrels, sanctimonious secularistas, and the relentless onslaught of holiday shopping.


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