Christmas trees return to Seattle airport

world | Dec 12, 2006 | By Martin Barillas

Seattle-Tacoma Airport maintenance workers returned 14 artificial Christimas tree to the terminal after a flap over a rabbi’s threat to file suit over the lack of menorahs – lamps that commemorate the Jewish celebration of Hanukah – at the airport.

Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky of the Seattle Chabad Lubavitch had requested that an 8-foot-tall menorah be added to the display but had never asked for the removal of the trees, according to a December 11 statement released by Patricia Davis of the Port of Seattle commission.

Rabbi Bogomilsky “never asked us to remove the trees, it was the port’s decision based on what we knew at the time” according to the airport’s statement. "There's been such an outcry from the public - from people of all faiths - who believe that the trees should be reinstalled," Davis said, "I'm very thankful that we can return the trees and get back to running our airport during this very busy holiday season."

The airport authorities learned on December 11 that Rabbi Bogomilsky was not going ahead with his threatened federal lawsuit over the absence of a menorah at the airport. The rabbi said in a statement “Our discussion of possible legal action was never about removing Christmas trees - it was about protecting the right to add menorahs."

While there are no plans for displaying the menorah this year, the port’s statement said “A key element in moving forward will be to work with the rabbi and other members of the community to develop a plan for next year’s holiday decorations at the airport”.

Rabbi Bogomilsky, according to his lawyer, received threatening and “odious” emails over the flap, according to various media reports.  The lawyer added that he and the rabbi did not want the airport authorities to hold “Christmas hostage” over their request for the menorah.

For their part, employees at airline ticket counters (Frontier Airlines, among them) placed miniature Christmas trees at their work stations. Also, an airport baggage handler made an appearance dressed as Santa Claus and greeted child travelers.

On the Net: Chabad Seattle

                 Seattle Airport


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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