Skip to comments.Lighting ceremony goes private after compromise [Seculars Protest Hanukkah Menorah]
Posted on 12/25/2005 7:53:41 AM PST by Alouette
PEABODY Mayor Michael Bonfanti will not attend tomorrow night's menorah lighting ceremony at City Hall, as part of a compromise between the city and local religious leaders.
The practice of lighting a large menorah in front of City Hall to mark the start of Hanukkah began last year when Rabbi Nechemia Schusterman of Chabad of Peabody, a Jewish outreach group unaffiliated with a Peabody synagogue, approached Bonfanti about placing a menorah at City Hall and asking him to light one of the candles. Chabad had a public lighting ceremony on the first night of the eight-day holiday last year.
But members of the city's interfaith Clergy and Ministerial Association which includes the city's Jewish temples raised concerns that holding a menorah lighting at City Hall muddied church-state relations and improperly took religious symbols into the secular arena.
"How many years of using a menorah as a civic decoration before the menorah is seen as a civic decoration?" asked Rabbi David Klatzker of Peabody's Temple Ner Tamid.
The mayor reached a compromise with the groups this fall, deciding to make the menorah lighting private and place a sign on the menorah showing that it belongs to Chabad and not the city. In addition, instead of a one-day lighting, the menorah will be out for all eight days of Hanukkah this year.
"For the greater good, you make compromises that don't interfere with your essential beliefs," Schusterman said. "For this year, this is what it is, and I'm happy."
Bonfanti said everybody wanted to do the right thing and not offend anyone.
"This is the season to have good will," he said. "And that's what it's all about.
"I'm just pleased with the caliber of religious people that we have that we can sit down and work out sometimes touchy issues."
But some still feel the deal doesn't hit all the marks.
"I'm not entirely satisfied with it," Klatzker said. "But it's a step in the right direction."
Klatzker said he has no problem with putting a menorah on private property like the mall, a lawn or even a car. "My only problem is City Hall or a public school," he said.
Schusterman disagrees with the Clergy and Ministerial Association's take on church-state relations. He said the lighting ceremony also has a broader, secular meaning like light pushing away the darkness and spreading the light of freedom in general.
Chabad of Peabody will hold another menorah lighting on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Northshore Mall. The mayor has been invited and is expected to attend.
"The idea is to be respectful to others' beliefs and even unbeliefs, I guess," Bonfanti said. "Again, it's difficult."
Warning! This is a high-volume ping list.
As a Christian I have to ask, when you start compromising your beliefs, where do you draw the line on what is essential?
Jews will have winter holiday candles to go alongside our winter holiday trees.
You cannot run culture through a blender and think that the tasteless grey muck that is created is somehow better than what you had before.
This goy says to go ahead and damn the naysayers.
I don't quite understand referring to it as anything but a religious or political symbol.
As I understand it, the Jewish holiday was a rather minor one that was invigorated solely as a political act to counter the unity that would result from untrammeled celebration of Christmas just as Kwansaa was an utterly invented holiday concocted solely to promote Black unity.
In your tag line you refer to yourself as a Jew who breeds like a Catholic. Do you think such a generalization about another group is appropriate?
What's wrong with letting the people use their own property (city hall, which the people own) for placing a menorah?
The people OWN the city hall, and as long as their use of it
does not conflict with other people using it at the same time,
THERE IS NO CONFLICT!
As long as it is privately paid for, NOBODY is going to think the city is endorsing a state religon and requiring everybody to follow suit.
Now the orthodox are screaming, "Those damn hellenists (Reform/Conservative), they are the one's responsible for the whole mess in the first place back during the Second Temple."
One never wins in such debates. Why can't we all do our own thing and leave our neighbors along. In my town, all religions and fraternities co-exist. The Jew, Jehovah's Witness, and sabbatarian don't mind the overt christmas decorations at the town square. Conversely the town is very tolerant of their beliefs in a quid pro quo. Meanwhile, the Catholic doesn't mind the FreeMason who doesn't mind the Baptist who tolerates the occasional witch. People are seen going to synagogue and church while others happily work 24/7. There is rarely a fuss let alone a hiss or cat call.
I blame big mouths on all sides of this argument to cause the uproar now present. You have the bitter atheist that claims to speak for all atheist and agnostics. You have the in-your-face religious nut with the messiah-complex that must witness while his family is largely ignored for loving attention. You have that one instigator Yeshiva drop out-type that has a bee in his yalmulka. And worst of all, you have your fascist liberal that must weaken others for her own empowerment and overbearing arrogance.
After the dust clears, then the reaction ensuse by the majority of people that on a normal day would not give a rip but follow the crowd in some unknown righteous indignation that lasts as long as the next episode of The Sapranos or Rome. Live and let live.
I didn't see any reference to the lighting of a nativity scene or a cross on city hall property...so much for separation of church and state. My daughter came home from a public kindergarten class last week with menorahs she had been told to color in class...but no crosses or nativity scenes are allowed...so much for separation of church and state.
Moscow Greets Chanukah by Lighting Giant Menorah Near the Kremlin
I have no problem with displays at city hall. Our city hall has all kinds of displays and the children love them. Adults too. City hall belongs to the people, all the people.
Personally, I think we should all honor the beliefs of each other. Why can't there be Christmas trees and Menorahs together on public property? Who could possibly be offended at honoring God?
Not a Monty Python fan I presume.
I wish my spouse would have wanted to breed like a Catholic.
Better news from another part of the world...
Peabody is a pretty strong Jewish community..why on earth some there take this tack makes no sense to me.
I'd like to see more about how makes up this gang....I bet Barry Lynne's Devil's Disciples are in the mix
Hitting Google today I note small Jewish settlements beginning in 1654 - pretty much makes them part of the fabric and maybe why we called it "Judeo-Christian" when I was growing up.
Also when growing up I had Catholic friends whose grandparents sniffed a bit at my De Molay membership but never ragged on me for it.
Living in small towns and again in the military I knew I could find good conversation among ministers, rabbis, and brothers from most any sect in country.
So much for the past.
Today it seems that the left pines for the same religious strife that so many people left 300 - 350 years ago, the same newly legitimized strife that the news presents us from Indonesia, Iraq/Iran/Sudan/'Palestine' and dozens of other poster places for 'diversity'.
If there is a war to be fought, it's a war for the inclusion of differences and assimilation of the best of each group.
It's pretty easy to see where the opposition is and it is absolutely clear that they are in the minority - these senseless attacks on long accepted symbols are only a means of dividing the majority into fragments.
PS: I go to church for weddings and funerals but this is getting personal anyway!
How do Catholics breed?
Hope you're feeling better ;)
Thanks for all the posts, but I sure am glad someone gave us an upside with the Russian Menorah lighting.
Happy Chanukah from a rainy Toronto!
-Bella who reeks of oil