What does “Christian hegemony” look like? Well, it looks like this: Springfield, Mass. citizens were subjected to a jaw-dropper for a pronouncement on Tuesday, during a city ceremony marking the start of the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah.
I’ve gone over some of the history of Hanukkah before; there’s no point in retreading what’s been said before. In the several times I’ve rehashed the basics of Hanukkah history, the one name that hasn’t come up is Jesus. And there’s a very obvious reason for that: Jesus had nothing to do with Hanukkah.
But Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams never got that memo. Williams, a Baptist, told an audience gathered at a city ceremony celebrating Hanukkah that “Jesus is the reason for the season.” He made the remark during a Court Square event attended by Mayor Domenic Sarno, Congressman Richard Neal, city dignitaries, and leaders of the greater Springfield Jewish community, all of whom were gathered to kick-start the eight-day event.
“I thought it added something to the service, it didn’t take away,” Williams said. He also said that he referenced Jesus Christ, whose birth is (likely erroneously) celebrated every 25 December by Christians worldwide, after participants mentioned “the bright light” of 2,000 years ago. This “bright light,” according to Williams, is Jesus Christ.
“Jesus was Jewish,” Williams said. “To me, Jesus is the messiah . . . I thought I was being very positive.”
Williams also noted that a few people thanked him for his remarks. “A couple of the rabbis walked up to me and said, ‘Great comments, Mr. Williams.’ ”
Rabbi Noach Kosofsky, who attended the event, was asked about his reaction to Williams’ statement. He responded by saying that “I’ll get back to you.”
A spokesman for Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said that “the councilor’s comments can stand on their own.”