A magazine I've long enjoyed is Newsweek. It publishes a variety of different voices and viewpoints, all of them well-educated and thoughtful. I haven't agreed with everything they publish, but I've been able to understand where their writers are coming from. Recently they added a new columnist: Rabbi Marc Gellman.
This is interesting, I thought. I would love to read the Jewish viewpoint on political issues of the day. Alas, Gellman has chosen not to share his wisdom in a well-though out essay debating the pros and cons of balanced budgets and term limits. He has become the biggest proponent of theocracy and Christianity and continually rails against secular government and rule of constitutional law.
Gellman's latest rant is about the Easter Bunny no longer welcome in a Palm Beach mall. Well - actually the bunny is still there. The mall (The Gardens Mall) now calls it their "Garden Bunny". It will still have eggs and still pose for photos with children dressed up in the most ridiculous outfits and sporting no less than 4 bows apiece (6 for the girls). Gellman claims that for the mall, this is a case "which will rally 100 percent of Americans against them." 100 percent? No kidding? He also informs us that renaming the bunny is akin to hunting it down and killing it "like a mangy dog." Wow. Obviously this is of the utmost national importance, requiring more attention than even Terri Schiavo (who mercifully is soon to depart from this world). He trashes the people who say, "Season's Greetings" instead of "Merry Christmas", even in a place like Palm Beach in which 129,000 Jews comprised over 11% of the total population of 1.1 million in 2000. More, if you include the 230,000 part-time Jewish residents (snowbirds). Gellman isn't one of them. He hails from Melville, NY, a suburb of New York City, where not only does the Jewish population make up 1 out of every 8 residents, other ethnicities and religions make up large parts of the general population.
So there is no excuse for his Christianic zeal. No excuse not to know that not 100% of the population celebrates Easter or Christmas. That the odds of saying "Merry Christmas" to a Christian may be significatly lower than 100%. I have yet to read (although there may be one out there) a column by him complaining that malls don't wish everyone a "Hag Sameach" on Purim or "Shanah Tovah" on Rosh Hashana.
So here's the wacko part - in one breath he says, What's the big deal? The Easter Bunny is 99% pagan anyway - it's not any more religious than a Chanuka Bush. In the next breath he equates that pagan symbol with Pesach matzah (which is in the Torah) and Ramadan fasting. Which is it? If it's religious, it clearly alienates a significant portion of the population in Palm Beach. If it's not - why make such a big fuss over a name change when the substance stays the same?
What I can't decide are his motives. At best, he is pandering to the Red-State readers who have gotten frenzied up over religion. At worst, he is using those religious Christians to further his own cause in promoting ultra-religious Judaism over Conservatives and Reforms. Either way, like the vitriol-spewing Shmuley Boteach, he represents the worst of religion and of someone who represents me, a Jew, in the media.