Since this story about a Chabad Rabbi who threatened to sue the Seattle-Tacoma airport unless they took down their Christmas trees has been getting so much media attention, I figure I’d better weigh in with my two cents.
My opinion? Quite simply, Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky is a first-degree horse’s ass. Why?
- Displaying a Christmas tree is harmless. It’s not forcing anyone’s faith on anyone else. It’s merely displaying it. It’s no more a threat to me as a Jew than a display of a menorah would be to a Christian. And if Rabbi Bogomilsky is so threatened by a friggin’ tree, then perhaps he ought to re-examine his personal faith rather than rallying against the world.
- I’ve always been uncomfortable with Chabad’s campaign to display menorahs everywhere at Chanukah. To me, it’s propagating the myth that Chanukah and Christmas are somehow related, or in competition, or have something to do with one another. Chanukah, as Rabbi Bogomilsky ought to know full well, is not a major religious holiday, and the fact that we’ve allowed it to become part of the generic “holiday season” and a symbol of gift-giving, commercialism and one-half of the semi-merged “Christmakah” is bad enough. This is worse.
- It’s not a competition. It shouldn’t be a competition. This isn’t about “my symbol is bigger than your symbol”. If people are proud of something, they should be allowed to express that pride without some other group feeling the need for one-upmanship. Judaism shouldn’t be about one-upmanship at all.
- Rabbi Bogomilsky is claiming to speak for all Jews with this stunt, which I personally resent an awful lot. Who voted him spokesperson of North American Jewry, anyway?
- I like Christmas trees, okay? I think they’re pretty. I think the lights and decorations are pretty. I enjoy looking at them. I know it’s not my holiday, and I’m not going to run out and get a tree for my living room or anything… but why shouldn’t I be allowed to get enjoyment out of someone else’s holiday?
Bottom line? I’m glad the trees are back, and I hope everyone learns to chill out and enjoy whatever holiday or holidays they choose to celebrate.
For more on the subject, see last year’s rant about the whole “Happy Holidays” / “Merry Christmas” debate.