The US has lately had some controversy over municipal trees being called "Holiday Trees" instead of "Christmas Trees." Christians have objected to the name of their holiday being obscured in such an ambiguous term. In particular, Boston has been the site of a controversy this year over the naming of the tree. The man who donated the tree even said that had he known it would not be called a "Christmas Tree," he would not have given it to the city.
A representative of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert said, "To rename a Christmas tree as a holiday tree is as offensive as renaming a Jewish menorah a candlestick" (link).
I'll go one step further. While Christians consider the renaming of the holiday symbol an affront to their religion, I find it offensive to my Judaism. The implication is that the tree is a symbol of the various holidays celebrated in America, most notably Hanukkah that generally falls out around the same time as the Christian holiday (particularly this year). The tree is not. It has nothing to do with Judaism, Hanukkah or any of our holidays. Regardless of its historical origin, the tree has come to be a symbol of one of the most important Christian holidays. Using an ambiguous term that implies it has significance to Judaism is, in my opinion, extremely offensive to Jews (and presumably members of other religions) and is simply inaccurate.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Jewish Rabbi's Take on "Holiday Trees"
This is an interesting viewpoint from Hirhurim Musings, a Jewish site devoted to discussing the Torah.