Saturday, December 9

Easy Solution to Seattle's 'Holiday Tree' Complaints

First, there is only one holiday tree that's put up at this time of year and that one is called a Christmas Tree. But OK, if other people want to call them holiday trees, then fine, go right ahead. But this is ridiculous:
All Holiday trees at Sea-Tac Airport were removed this morning after several community member complaints. They say the trees don't represent all cultures and religions...The trees will not go up again...the airport policy on decorations will be reviewed after the holidays. - 710 KIRO
This other source was a little more specific about the complaints.
The Port allowed holiday decorations to remain but decided to take down all the Christmas trees after a Jewish religious leader complained they were offensive. - KOMO-TV
I have two suggestions on how Seattle can respond to people who complain like that, without telling them to go F-off. First, you can thank them for the feedback and tell them that they better hurry up before they miss their flight. Or, you can invite local community leaders from these other religions that are complaining that 'they are being left out' to come in and decorate their own holiday tree. The Jewish community can decorate their holiday tree with Jewish ornaments and Muslims can decorate their holiday tree with Islamic ornaments.

It's kind of hard to complain when your responsible for putting the holiday tree up. with that in mind, the airport can simply hand each complainer their own bare tree and invite them to decorate it as they see fit.

Of course, the complaints can go both ways!
Shalom Gil:

I have a problem. My kids from my first marriage are 9 and 15 and are Catholic. I converted to Judaism four years ago. I am now married to a wonderful Jewish man.

My children are supportive of MY choice for my own religion but have made it clear to me that they are Catholic and will not change at this point. I don't press that issue. They do however, share candle lighting on Fridays when they are here with me (every other week) and they do celebrate the other holidays with me as far as getting together for dinners but not going to synagogue or anything like that. We always have a seder on Passover and we do celebrate Hanukkah with some presents and celebrate Rosh Hashanah.

Now that they are getting older, they are saying that I don't share THEIR holidays with them, like allowing a Christmas tree in the house. What makes this year especially difficult is that they are here with me this Christmas season and they are feeling cheated in a certain way. Usually they are with their Catholic father over the season and I have never really had to directly deal with this issue. Now I am and I don't know what to tell them.

I have told them that this is a Jewish home and that we don't have a tree. But now they are angry and hurt because I have not acknowledged them in their religion. I admit -- I am feeling guilty. They do participate with me all of the time -- how do I do the same for them? Honestly -- I feel like I have abandoned them somewhat by not freely allowing them their religion when they are with me. Please help me if you can. I need some direction on this issue. Thank you. - Being Jewish - Note: © Copyright Gil Mann (Click the link to read the answer)

Life's a bitch, isn't it.

Update: 12 December 2006

It seems that Seattle's one-Rabbi war against holiday trees is about to be concluded:

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A local rabbi is receiving hate mail and angry phone calls after Seattle airport officials took down its Christmas trees in response to his request to include a giant Menorah in the airport's holiday decorations, his lawyer said on Monday.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport removed its Christmas trees on Saturday after Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky threatened to sue the Port of Seattle, which operates the airport, if it did not include a menorah into its holiday decorations. - Reuters

At least the public managed to figure out who was the correct person to complain to. Even better, the complaining managed to bring about resolution to the conflict. (At least for now.)

Harvey Grad, the rabbi's attorney, said it was never Bogomilsky's intention to have the trees removed and the rabbi was "saddened" by the port's decision to remove all holiday decorations instead of including the Menorah for Hanukkah.

"We are not part of the war on Christmas," said Grad. "All we asked for was inclusion and now we're getting hate mail and angry messages."

The Chabad of Greater Seattle asked the airport to put the trees back and will not pursue any legal action even if the airport does not include the menorah into this year's holiday decorations. - Reuters

See, here is the Rabbi's problem. He should not have demanded that a Menorah be included. Instead he should have requested that the airport include a 'holiday candelabra'. After all, a Menorah is clearly religious. (See the wikipedia entry here.)
He also should have treated the Menorah as a completely different issue. By linking it to the trees, he managed to have all blame for their removal directed at him, and rightly so. Threatening to sue was the other major mistake. although, that did propt rapid action to rectify the problem, just not as he had intended.

Rabbi gets hate mail over airport Christmas trees - Reuters
War on Christmas Hits Sea-Tac - Stop the ACLU
Holiday Tree? I Don't Think So. - 29 November 2005

1 comment:

Jed Carosaari said...

Good suggestion. Personally I get so tired of people claiming this is a Christian symbol, and therefore saying it must not be put up. If anything, if in any religion, it's from the Nordic gods. Today it's simply secular, no more religious than coloured lights or shopping at this time of year. I agree, we should put a mennorah up. As long as there's a creche too, or something actually part of the Christian part of Christmas.