It’s the most wonderful time of the year — unless you’re Mike Jordings, the manager of the Key Food in Windsor Terrace.
This year, Jordings tried to bring a little Hanukkah cheer to his Jewish customers, so he let a local rabbi set up a menorah in front of the Prospect Avenue store.
Naturally, all hell broke loose.
Within hours of Rabbi Moshe Hecht’s big menorah lighting on the third night of Hanukkah on Sunday, Jordings started hearing complaints from his non-Jewish customers.
So he installed a Christmas tree.
Hell remained unmoored. So Jordings removed both religious icons.
“I made a mistake, I guess,” Jordings said. “I was a nice guy.”
Full disclosure? I believe in God as much as I believe in fairies, unicorns, mermaids, Sasquatch and the notion that Joe Lieberman has a soul. But even an unreconstructed Bible-basher like me had to feel for Jordings.
On Tuesday, the crisis hadn’t died down yet, with supporters of Hecht’s Chabad of Windsor Terrace posting a letter from the rabbi on a Windsor Terrace blog that spoke of being “extremely disappointed” by Jordings’s decision as well as “the apparent lack of neighborly respect for our holiday celebration.”
Hecht’s letter urged “everyone to personally speak with the manager [and] ask him what happened to the menorah.
“Encourage [him] not to be swayed by those few elements amongst the community that are intolerant and unfriendly,” Hecht continued.
Hecht’s letter had the desired effect.
“I don’t think I’ll be supporting Key Food any longer, considering they don’t support me,” posted one Jewish reader, who did not leave his name.
Of course, like the Talmud, this story has lots of interpretations.
To Hecht, the sinister hand of anti-Semitism is at work again.
“There’s a context here: Just a few weeks ago, we had a sign in front of the Chabad center that was defaced with racial slurs. And now to see that the only supermarket is pressured to take down our menorah, that’s really bad.
“It feels like there’s some anti-Semitism here,” he concluded.
Jordings wasn’t sure.
“I heard complaints both ways — about the menorah and the tree,” he said. “That’s why I took them both down. I’m a supermarket, not a religion.”
The Clash of the Seasonal Icons did teach Jordings a lesson that’s as old as the Scriptures themselves.
“It really is true that nice guys finish last,” he said.