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How a menorah may lead to bring about a ‘Christian nation’

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In America, Jews have long championed the separation of religion and state, and for good reason. That proverbial Wall of Separation has protected us from the very realistic fear that, if unchecked, zealots would impose a narrow, xenophobic vision of Christianity on America. Now, as we prepare to welcome Hanukkah, the menorah, ancient symbol of religious freedom, lurks as a reminder of how vulnerable we are to losing the constitutional right that has helped to preserve that freedom.

In the latter years of the 20th century, an internal battle among Jews was fought over whether a Hanukkah menorah could be placed on public ground. The Lubavitch movement staked its future on the powerful symbolism of an ancient practice: the public proclamation of the Hanukah miracle. The public-space menorah became their signature issue, and a clarion call for Jews who, in their estimation, had long been too timid to demonstrate public pride in their faith — that despite the fact that the Soviet Jewry movement had been bringing Jews proudly into the public square for en masse years. The Jewish establishment, including an alliance of secular non-profit leaders and liberal rabbis, fought hard to defeat Chabad and maintain that rigid Wall, which they claimed protected Jews from Christian encroachment on a whole variety of public issues.

The Lubavitchers struck a nerve, mirroring the chutzpah of the Maccabees in defying the entrenched powers, and they won a clear victory that was enshrined in law. In the 1989 case County of Allegheny v. American........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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