Here’s Why Gavin Newsom Was Named the ‘Biggest Scrooge’ This Christmas Season

This year, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty crowned their annual “Ebenezer Award” to California Gov. Gavin Newsom after he canceled the state’s in-person Christmas tree lighting and skipped a menorah lighting traditionally attended by the governor. 

On X, Becket wrote that Newsom canceled the Christmas tree lighting over “fears of anti-Israel protests.” 

“In canceling one of California’s most cherished holiday traditions and skipping another, Newsom can rightly be dubbed the Governor who stole Christmas and Hanukkah,” Mark Rienzi, president and CEO of Becket, said. “We hope Governor’s heart will grow three sizes next year, so that Californians can once again celebrate their annual holidays with joy.” 

According to Becket’s website, each year, the holiday season “inspires a slew of outrageous offenses against the free exercise of religion.” Other recipients of the “Ebenezer Award” include the American Humanist Association, which tried to stop schools from sending care packages to children in need; the Department of Veteran Affairs, which banned employees at its Salem, Virginia facility from saying “Merry Christmas” to veterans; and the University of Minnesota, which banned from campus holiday colors, Santas, bows, dreidels, and even wrapped presents.

“As we continue to see protests across the country impacting the safety of events of all scales — and for the safety and security of all participating members and guests including children and families — the ceremony this year will be virtual,” a representative for Newsom said earlier this month regarding the Christmas tree lighting. “The program is unchanged and viewers can tune in Wednesday evening to watch this year’s festivities.”

Reportedly, Newsom only allowed his family and a few invited guests to attend the Christmas tree lighting ceremony instead of keeping it open to the public. It was livestreamed for others to see.

On the other hand, Becket recognized the Chabad Williamsburg and Rabbi Herber for putting on a Menorah lighting ceremony after a Virginia nonprofit called LoveLight Placemaking refused to host a menorah lighting. Reportedly, the organization did not want to appear to be “supporting the killing/bombing of thousands of men, women and children,” in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

On X, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, called the cancellation “antisemitic.”

“Singling out the Jewish community by canceling this Hanukkah celebration is absurd and antisemitic,” he wrote. “The event organizers should immediately reconsider their actions and move forward with the menorah lighting.”

Virginia House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn added that the cancellation was “shocking and outrageous.” 

“Canceling the menorah lighting ceremony and holding Jewish people responsible for the ongoing conflict in the Middle East is shocking and outrageous. This type of hate has no place in Virginia. The organizers should reverse this decision immediately,” she wrote on X.

As a result, Chabad Williamsburg and Rabbi Herber hosted their own menorah lighting ceremony for local Jewish residents. More than 250 people attended.

“All Americans should be able to come together in a spirit of joy and hope at the holidays,” Rienzi explained. “While there will always be those who seek to divide us, the Christmas and Hanukkah season serves as an important reminder of our need to live together in peace despite our differences.” 

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