Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek faces backlash for refusing to attend the city's menorah lighting ceremony

Calgary Mayor criticized for refusing to attend menorah lighting ceremony, citing concerns over event's political nature

Photo by Jack Carter / Unsplash

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek's has found herself in hot water over her refusal to attend the city's annual menorah lighting ceremony. Mayor Gondek stated that the event's transformation into a pro-Israel demonstration as her reason for not participating. This decision has been met with mixed reactions from various community groups and religious organizations.

Gondek’s decision drew criticism from the Calgary Jewish Federation, who expressed their disappointment, calling it both offensive and harmful to the Jewish community. Rabbi Menachem Matusof of Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta expressed disappointment in Mayor Gondek's decision, viewing the menorah lighting primarily as a cultural and religious celebration of Hanukkah. They argue that the event is not inherently political but rather a symbol of religious freedom and diversity.

Amidst controversy, council member Dan McLean and others declared their support for the Jewish community by attending the menorah lighting. However, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and several federal Conservative politicians criticized the mayor's decision, arguing that it would perpetuate antisemitism. Despite this, Premier Smith assured that the UCP government would have a representative present to demonstrate their support for the Jewish community and emphasize their value.