A city official shocked onlookers Tuesday in Massachusetts with his pronouncement during a ceremony marking the start of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah.
"Jesus is the reason for the season," said Springfield City Councilor Bud Williams.
Hanukkah celebrates two miracles, neither of which involves the Christian Messiah.
The holiday marks the 2nd Century BCE victory of a greatly outnumbered army of Jewish Maccabees over the Greek occupying force and the lighting of a menorah after liberating the Holy Temple.
The Maccabees believed they had only enough oil to last one day, but the menorah burned for eight days and nights.
Williams, who is Baptist, said he mentioned Jesus after previous speakers referenced “the bright light” from 2,000 years ago, which he took to be an allusion to the birth of Christ.
"Jesus was Jewish," Williams said. "To me, Jesus is the messiah ... I thought I was being very positive."
"Jaws dropped," reported the Springfield Republican, but Williams said some participants, including rabbis, thanked him for his remarks afterward.
However, none of them have commented on the record.
"I thought it added something to the service, it didn't take away," Williams said.
A spokesman for Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, who attended the event, said “the councilor’s comments can stand on their own.”