City Councilor Bud Williams surprised residents in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Tuesday when he said, "Jesus is the reason for the season" during a Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremony.
Williams, who is a Baptist, appeared at the town event with the mayor and leaders of the Jewish community.
The ceremony was held on Dec. 16 to start the eight-day Jewish Festival of Lights.
Williams claims that he made the remark after other participants mentioned a "the bright light" from 2,000 years ago.
"I thought it added something to the service, it didn't take away," Williams told MassLive.com.
Williams insisted that he wasn't trying to offend people, but rather remind everyone about the "reason for the season."
However, Hanukkah has nothing to do with Jesus.
Boston.com notes that the “bright light” from 2,000 years ago was likely "a reference to the recapture by the Jews of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from the Greeks and subsequent lighting of a menorah there using a one day supply of oil which lasted for eight days. This also occurred about two thousand years ago (200 BCE) and is what Hanukkah celebrates."
Williams also told MassLive.com: "Jesus was Jewish. To me, Jesus is the messiah ... I thought I was being very positive ... A couple of the rabbis walked up to me and said, 'Great comments, Mr. Williams.'"
Sources: Boston.com, MassLive.com
Image Credit: Roy Lindman