Ferndale to Vote on 13’ Menorah Display

Ferndale to Vote on 13’ Menorah Displaychazzano game ad

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Dec. 15, 2014)

The City of Ferndale is expected to vote on a Menorah Display at their meeting of Monday, Dec. 15.

According to a memo in the City Council Agenda Packet, “Rabbi Herscel Finman [of Congregation Bnai Teshuva] is requesting approval to display a 13’ Menorah on the front lawn of the Kulick Community Center in celebration of the 2014 Hanukkah, an eight – day Jewish observance also known as Chanukah or Festival of Lights . The electric Menorah is a nine – branched candelabrum lit during the eight- day holiday of Hanukkah. Judy_Palmer30yearsOn each night of Hanukkah a new branch is lit with the ninth holder, called the shamash (“helper” or “servant”), represent s the candle used to light all other lights.

“The Menorah lights will require electrical hook- up from the Kulick Community Center. The display would take effective beginning Tuesday, December 16, 2014 and remain on display until it is dismantled on Friday, December 26, 2014. An official lighting ceremony would be held on December 23 at 6:00 PM with light refreshment available at the Kulick Community Center. Set – up and dismantling of Menorah will be supervised by the Department of Public Works.”

The permit cost will be $85, $35 of which is the application fee and $50 of which is the recreation rental fee.gallowaycollens1 The Kulick Community Center is located at 1201 Livernois in Ferndale.

Reaction on Facebook to the proposed display has been mixed, with some favoring diverse faith displays in Ferndale, and others questioning the mixture of religion and government.

In 2003 Ferndale faced a potential legal battle over its holiday displays, which included a nativity scene, a Star of David, a Hanukkah Menorah, a Kwanza symbol, Santa Claus and Frosty the Snowman.  According to freerepublic.com, the display had been at City Hall for more than a decade, then moved to the Kulick Center.  And in 2003, after a city in New Jersey lost a lawsuit over nearly identical decorations, the City decided to retire the display.

Madison Heights currently has a large nativity scene in front of their municipal complex.  Online research shows a mix of outcomes in instances where municipalities allowed religious displays on public property, and the agenda packet does not have a legal opinion included.

The meeting takes place at 7pm at Ferndale City Hall, 300 E. 9 Mile.

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