Report by Paula Antolini, July 30, 2019,9:17PM EDT
OPINION / LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Letter to the editor, Correspondence to the Bethel Board of Selectmen for their meeting on August 6 to discuss “religious displays”:
To the Bethel Board of Selectmen,
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Season’s Greetings, AND HAPPY HANUKKAH!
Many years ago I suggested adding a Menorah to the beautiful holiday scene for Bethel. That discussion was favorably received by every first Selectperson I’ve asked since Charlie Steck!
Regrettably, I never acted on that until this year. With the expansion of inclusiveness last year, the wishes for happy holidays from other than a religious group, more than 50 people have donated over $2000. The contributors to this effort come from all manner of religious and social backgrounds. This addition near the Nativity, while distinct, is intended to add more light to the existing light. Bethel’s citizens can enjoy a Nativity, Happy Holidays, and a Menorah.
The origins of Hanukkah, having no mention in the Hebrew Bible, stems from the commemoration of the Maccabee’s insurgent victory about the year 166 BCE to liberate the Temple Mount from State-sponsored Zeus worship. As a fight for religious freedom, it reminds us today about our own First Amendment rights which restrict Government from favoring one religion, “or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”; upheld by recent Court decisions.
In the spirit of that second part, I have submitted two applications. One for the placement of the Menorah near the Nativity display, and another for use of the square on the first night of Hanukkah, which is December 22nd.
It’s my hope that placement of the Menorah near the Nativity, within reach of power, will also permit the preparation of the temporary mounting base in advance, and prior to the ground freezing. Denying use of PT Barnum Square to a hypothetical “lottery”, excluding Bethel’s first Jewish-themed display would be unconscionable. Please approve the addition of the Menorah.
Again, Happy Hanukkah.