Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Belgium: Jewish lawmaker takes heat for lighting menorah near Parliament nativity scene

Via JTA:
A video by the only Orthodox Jewish lawmaker in the Belgium Federal Parliament lighting candles there on Hanukkah near a nativity scene is provoking angry reactions, including from members of his own party.

Michael Freilich is seen walking through Parliament with a menorah as he passes multiple Christmas trees and other holiday symbols.

Then he lights the menorah in a smaller room with a Christmas tree and nativity scene, which celebrates the birth of Jesus, in the background.

Two local politicians representing Freilich’s center-right N-VA party complained that his actions go against the separation of religion and state. […]

Freilich told the media that he did not pray while lighting the candles in the video, meaning the action was an expression of his tradition and not an act of worship.

“If we allow Christmas trees and a nativity scene, the menorah is as similar a cultural Jewish heritage item and should not be banned,” Freilich told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
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