Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thankful for the Lights and for our Diversity

Ventura is a great place to spend the holidays. It’s warm during the day yet wintry at night, with a splash of rain from time to time. So we can enjoy the best of both worlds – vigorous outdoor activities during the day and cozy moments by the fire at night.

We can also celebrate the fact that here in Ventura our community includes many different faiths, each of which brings something special to our community. One of the things I love about Ventura is that it’s a diverse place. The fact that we all respect and appreciate each other – and we all work together for the benefit of our community overall – is one of the most wonderful thoings about our town.

On the first Saturday of December, it was great fun to join Santa Claus in lighting our community Christmas Tree in the mini-park on Santa Clara Street next to the parking garage. It’s the first time we’ve had the tree in that location – thanks, Kathleen Ericksen and Downtown Ventura Organization – and the turnout was great. So was the music, thanks to four great choirs – the Ventura Youth Choir, the Channelaires, the Trinity Lutheran Church Choir, and the First Assembly of God Church Choir.

Over the past several months, I have visited more than a dozen churches in Ventura on Sundays, with special emphasis on evangelical Christian churches. Thanks to their ceaseless efforts, the Kingdom Center is now making a dent in the homeless problem in Ventura. And several of our churches are helping temporarily homeless families through our “safe sleep” program. (If you haven’t heard anything about that program lately, that’s because it’s working – with no problems and no incidents)

The next day it was my honor to participate in our annual community menorah lighting program at the Ventura Harbor. Rabbi Yakov Latowicz of the Chabad Center here in Ventura – and his colleagues from around the country – always do a great job of putting a program on. This year, I had the special privilege of sharing the stage with Yuli Edelstein, a former Russian diplomat and currently Israel’s Minister of the Diaspora and Public Diplomacy, who went some 30 feet up in the air in a cherry-picker to light the huge menorah.

And just a few weeks ago, I had another great privilege – cutting the ribbon for the grand opening of the Ventura County Hindu Temple, the first such temple in the Tri-Counties area. The Temple opened just in time for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

In these dark times, we in Ventura should be grateful that we still have wonderful sunshine during the day – and so many ways to celebrate the light in our community.

1 comment:

  1. Well Bill it's quite obvious that you are a well meaning religious zealot. As for myself I am far from being religiously bound. Now here is a suggestion for the Council person that is also in your demeaner. If we are truly enamored of pulling our state as well as our country out of the economical mess they are in we should seriously consider removing the religious entities from the "No Tax Role". Let them be taxed the same as every body else is, let them finally pay their fair share of the cost of this country. They have been on a "Free Ride" for way too long.

    Rellis Smith


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