February 19, 2016

IT'S A PURITAN NATION:

Mayor Bernie Sanders and the Chabad Menorah (Ron KampeasFebruary 18, 2016, JTA) 

Sanders' backing for the display of a menorah outside Burlington City Hall made national headlines in the 1980s, but had been forgotten until last week, when Chabad.org editor Dovid Margolin rediscovered the story. Margolin is researching the history of menorah displays in the United States.

Sanders first allowed the display of an 8-foot-tall menorah for one night of Hanukkah in 1983, at the request of Rabbi Yitzchak Raskin, then newly installed as the Chabad movement's emissary to Vermont.

In Margolin's telling, Sanders was a ready and happy participant in the first lighting:

On December 1, 1983, in front of a crowd of about 35 Jewish students from the University of Vermont, he came out to the steps of City Hall, donned a kippah, flawlessly read the blessings aloud, and lit two candles, corresponding to the second night of Chanukah.

The ceremony became an annual event, and in 1986, Raskin asked Sanders if he could keep a 16-foot-tall menorah in City Hall Park throughout the eight days of Hanukkah. Sanders sought a legal opinion, and given a green light, he gave Chabad the nod.

The American Civil Liberties Union, now a Sanders ally (it scored him as high as 93 percent during his congressional career), protested in 1987 and sued in 1988. Sanders did not back down and defended the menorah placement in the courts through 1989, his last year as mayor and the year an appellate court ruled that the menorah could not appear in front of City Hall.



Posted by at February 19, 2016 9:19 AM

  

« WE ARE ALL DESIGNIST NOW: | Main | THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS QUALITY: »