What do lawyers who oppose menorahs on state property think of the Chabad rabbis who put them there?

What do Pakistani Muslims feel about Jews and America?

And how do Greeks feel about Chanukah?

I have just finished participating at the pre-Chanukah menorah lighting at California's State Capitol together with a glowing and friendly Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. During the de-light-ful ceremony, special mention was made of our dear colleagues, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivky Holtzberg, agents of good who were murdered during the recent Mumbai attacks.

It was a peaceful and friendly Chanukah experience, where people of all faiths and backgrounds celebrated the religious freedom afforded by America—even the "lefty" Jewish lawyer who happened to be walking past during a recess in his trial case. He stopped by while we were setting up and decided to register his protest against religious symbols on state property. I asked him how his family was doing. He smiled and told me all about them—an unmistakable touch of pride in his voice.

After the ceremony he gave me hug. He was inspired, he said, to share the light and warmth, after hearing the amazing story of young Moshe Holtzberg's miraculous survival—as told by the Governor.

I then rushed off to the airport to get on the standby list for a flight back to Los Angeles—as the cross-country storms continued to wreak mayhem on air-traffic time tables. I jumped into a cab, but the driver claimed that he does not know where the airport is... The second cab driver tells me that he does not accept credit cards. A sign from G‑d or what?!

The third cab driver was happy to take me.

He was from Pakistan. Of course you can guess where our conversation went.

Well, you are probably wrong.

He was a warm and friendly person; I asked him how his family was doing, and how long he's been in America. He told all about his family, and his love for life and his beautiful country—the USA. As we approached the airport I finally asked him to share his thoughts on the Mumbai attacks. My pre-conceived notion was wrong. Rahim was very upset at what had happened. In broken English mixed with Punjabi, he said, "No Pakistani likes this; this is so, so bad, I am sorry for this..."

I arrive at the airport and luckily they book me for a flight. As we await the plane, Dennis Prager entertains us and shows us a video he had just filmed of himself with the Governor smoking a cigar. "If you want to make it with people," he says, "don't talk to them about their work or politics. Speak about their hobbies and their families."

How appropriate, I think to myself, as I recall my conversations earlier that day.

I got on the plane; I'm seated next to a Greek woman. She serves as a psychologist in California county jails. She wanted to know what the Amish were doing in town... I laughed and told her that we were actually Jewish, rabbis lighting the Governor's Menorah.

She wanted to know the story of Chanukah. Well, she is Greek, but I told her anyway...

But then she tells me how her maternal grandfather was killed by the Nazis for resisting them and how her paternal grandfather hid Jews in their village house, thus saving their lives. She told me how she had seen some religious Jews before and wanted to ask some questions but felt uncomfortable.

Why do we judge? Why the stereotypes?

Maybe it's time to tear down some barriers and share the warmth of life, in this kind, loving world that G‑d created.

Happy Chanukah!