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New Hampshire City Won’t Display Menorah In Park For Fear Of Vandalism

Officials in a New Hampshire city will not allow a 10-foot menorah to be displayed next to a decorated Christmas tree at a local park, the Associated Press reported.

Officials in Durham denied the request of UNH & Seacoast Chabad Jewish Center to place the menorah next to the tree out of concern of vandalism, town administrator Todd Selig said.

Selig explained that the officials were not “comfortable” leaving the menorah in the open throughout the eight nights of Hanukkah. The Durham Human Rights Commission is reportedly reviewing the situation.

The decorating of the tree is an annual town tradition, one that the Human Rights Commission insists should end if the menorah isn’t allowed, as the tree is associated with the Christian faith, the Union Leader reported. A member of the town council disagreed, claiming it was not a religious symbol; rather, a ritual to “bring light into darkness.”

The local Chabad put out a statement on its Facebook page, sharing that it will work with the town administration to “create a path forward that will allow everyone to enjoy their constitutionally guaranteed rights.”

“The fact that the town allows for some to publicly express their culture is a good thing, and we hope that continues. To stop people from openly expressing their particular faith seems un-American and would be a terrible loss for our town and our country,” it read. “Not allowing a menorah for fear of anti-Semitism, only emboldens and enables those who hate. After all, that’s exactly what they’d want to see; our menorah not allowed.”

Alyssa Fisher is a news writer at the Forward. Email her at fisher@forward.com, or follow her on Twitter at @alyssalfisher

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