Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams celebrated the first night of Hanukkah in contradictory fashion, telling attendees at the city’s menorah lighting ceremony that “Jesus is the reason for the season.’’
As MassLive points out, Hanukkah is a Jewish religious holiday. For reasons that should be obvious, Jewish people tend not to celebrate Christmas, to which Williams’s remark referred.
In a follow-up, Williams told MassLive that his comment came after other participants in the ceremony mentioned a “bright light’’ about two thousand years ago, which he took to be a reference to the birth of Jesus Christ. It may also have been a reference to the recapture by the Jews of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from the Greeks and subsequent lighting of a menorah there using a one day supply of oil which lasted for eight days. This also occurred about two thousand years ago (200 BCE) and is what Hanukkah celebrates. Hanukkah does not celebrate Jesus, though, as Williams pointed out, “Jesus was Jewish.’’
“I thought I was being very positive,’’ Williams told MassLive.
Williams did not return a request for comment. A spokesperson for Springfield’s mayor Domenic Sarno, who was also at the event, said “the councilor’s comments can stand on their own.’’
To Williams’s credit, at least he attended the ceremony. The mayor of Plattsburgh, NY, James Calnon, declined an invitation to participate in the city’s first-ever public menorah lighting, saying “my presence at a religious event not a part of my normal life could give a reasonable person the impression that the event has the city’s endorsement.’’
Calnon did participate in a Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Plattsburgh’s Strand Theatre on December 6. (Calnon told WPTZ there was a distinction because the tree lighting was “an incidental piece of what goes on’’ rather than a religious event.) He also co-hosted the theater’s “Coming Home for the Holidays’’ show last December, when he was a city councilor and mayor-elect. The show included a performance of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!’’
According to its website, the City of Plattsburgh’s offices are closed for Christmas this year.