Jesus “is the reason for the season,” a city councilor in Springfield, Massachusetts, told a bewildered, mainly Jewish, audience at a ceremony marking the first night of Hanukkah on Tuesday.
The councilor, Bud Williams, made the closing remark at the city’s annual menorah lighting event, attended by leaders of the local Jewish community, a congressman and the mayor.
After the gaffe made headlines, Williams told Masslive.com he thought the remark “added something to the service, it didn’t take away.”
Williams said he referenced Jesus, whose birthday is marked by Christians on December 25 (but not by Jews), because the term “bright light” was used which he understood as an allusion to Jesus, he said.
“Jesus was Jewish,” Williams said. “To me, Jesus is the messiah … I thought I was being very positive.”
Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, commemorates the rededication of the Temple by the Maccabees after their victory over the Seleucids.