New Hampshire town rejects menorah display, citing vandalism

Administrator says town officials not 'comfortable' leaving menorah up for 8 nights, expressing concerns of vandalism and anti-Semitism.


Flash 90

A Chabad’s efforts to erect a menorah in a public park in New Hampshire could lead to the banning of a Christmas tree on the same spot.

Durham Town Administrator Todd Selig denied a request from the local Chabad to light a 10-foot tall Hanukkah menorah, expressing concerns about vandalism and anti-Semitic expression.

He said the area town officials were not “comfortable” leaving the menorah on display for the eight nights of Hanukkah, the Associated Press reported.

“The broader concern though was, do we want to open the public square up to all religions?” Selig told CBS.

Chabad had asked to be allowed to place the menorah next to the “holiday tree,” formerly known as a Christmas tree, that has been set up in the park for decades.

The town’s Human Rights Commission is likely to recommend dispensing with all holiday displays, including the tree that currently is standing in the park. One possibility the commission is toying with is a non-religious winter carnival, according to the CBS report.

The legal standard for holiday displays established by the U.S. Supreme Court holds that municipalities can use religious elements in Christmas displays if they don’t appear to advocate any one religion. Chabad and others have successfully argued that a Hanukkah menorah meets that standard and can be displayed on municipal property.

Meanwhile, Selig reportedly has received several expletive-laced voicemail messages, on both sides of the issue.