Chuckles and bewilderment, not outrage, seemed to be the primary and appropriate responses to someone at a New York City grocery store labeling the ham as “Delicious for Chanukah (Hannaukkah)” recently.
Apparently, it was not an intentional offense. An apology was quickly offered and the sign removed.
It had more to do with ignorance than raw insensitivity. It appears one can be without the basic knowledge that pork is not kosher for observant Jews.
The incident reminded me of an experience from my years in campus ministry. The student newspaper came out each Friday at one of the state university campuses where I served.
Picking up the latest issue once on the Friday before Easter, I was stunned. Across the right-hand corner, above the banner, was a crudely drawn cartoon of the Easter Bunny with the warm greeting: “Happy Good Friday!”
Perhaps the young editor was thrown off by the term “Good.” Maybe “Holy Friday,” as some call it, is a better designation.
It was hard to imagine, however, that no one on the staff of a college newspaper in the Bible Belt was aware that this particular day is set aside to commemorate the Crucifixion of Jesus — a somber day.
All of us in the publishing field know the embarrassment of typos and other mistakes in print. But “Happy Good Friday” revealed more ignorance than carelessness.
I tore off the front cover and still have it tucked away in a file somewhere.
While it is unreasonable to expect everyone to be fully knowledgeable of all religious traditions, some basic understandings and sensitivities will go a long way toward living peacefully and well in our growing religious pluralism.