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Saturday, July 13, 2024
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The Meaning of the Menorah

Seth Mandel
Commentary Magazine, Dec. 7, 2023

“No menorah lighting because Shirley Vermillion and her festival don’t want to give the impression that they support killing children—and having a Jewish ceremony would, in her eyes, do exactly that.”
Nothing crystallizes the inseparability of Judaism from the state of Israel quite like efforts to ban Jewish symbols. This year, we begin celebrating Hanukkah tonight (Thursday the 7th) amid the latest string of such attempts.

Sometimes it can even begin with good intentions. In the spirit of inclusivity, the town of Westbrook, Maine, wanted to include Hanukkah in its holiday season display. Town officials decided they needed a symbol that wasn’t explicitly religious, for constitutional reasons.

The town settled on dreidels. But unbeknownst to the mayor, a municipal employee also ordered a giant Star of David. When that was put on display, officials immediately got complaints—not for church-state-separation reasons but for political ones. According to JTA, “a local Arab American citizen complained, reportedly calling it ‘offensive’ in light of Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.”

The star was taken down—not because of Israel but because of its religious significance, even though the complaint centered on politics, not religion.
There is a very serious point to this farce: public officials are being made to feel uncomfortable with Jewish displays. And most of the time, unlike with Westbrook, Maine, it is intentional and sinister. Activists have figured out that if you want to banish Jewish symbols you will always have an excuse to do so, whether that excuse is political or religious.

…[To read the full article, click here]

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