Concerning the recent controversy over the Christmas trees at Sea-Tac Airport, one letter published in the Dec. 15 issue of the JTNews stated in part that “You [Jews] must use wisdom when picking your battles.”
Is placing a menorah next to the Christmas trees at Sea-Tac a “battle” that we, the Jewish community, should take on?
Originally, I would have said no. I consider myself an American Jew — a Jew first and an American second. This is not my country — this is the Diaspora country in which I live. I discharge my duties as a citizen of the United States because Jewish law requires that I do so. As an American Jew, I realize that I am a member of a minority amongst a Christian majority. As such, I have in the past taken the position that as long as the Christian majority does not interfere with my freedom to practice Judaism, they (the majority) can display in public anything they wish. Likewise, I did not feel that public demonstrations of Judaism (such as public menorah lightings) were necessary to affirm my commitment to the faith.
However, I have changed my opinion. I have never met Rabbi Bogomilsky and cannot pretend to know his motivations. However, based on what I do know about Jewish theology, I would suggest that Rabbi Bogomilsky’s intention was not to “do battle” with Christianity, or even demand equal time in the public forum for Judaism. My guess is that in asking the Port of Seattle to place a menorah next to the Christmas trees, he wished to symbolize publicly the sentiment found in Isaiah 60:2-3, “Darkness shall cover the earth…but upon you the Lord will shine and His Presence…And nations shall walk by your light….”
Seen in this light, the public menorah lighting is more than a display of cultural diversity or affirmation of one’s Jewish faith. It symbolizes hope for a dark world. And, as a “kingdom of priests and holy nation,” how can we not take on any battle that does this?