The city of Moncton, in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, on Monday walked back its decision not to display a menorah outside city hall during the holiday of Hanukkah, for the first time in 20 years.
The Jewish community in Moncton had voiced its discontent with the decision, which the city said was due to a desire to “separate church from state”, citing a 2015 Supreme Court of Canada ruling that banned religious prayers at municipal council meetings.
On Monday, Mayor Dawn Arnold issued a statement in which she noted that there has been “a strong reaction to the City of Moncton’s decision not to install the menorah and nativity scene at City Hall.”
“As a growing city, Moncton is continuously evolving its posture with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion. The City wanted to be more inclusive toward our community by repositioning these faith symbols; however, we obviously fell short in this transition. Despite our best intentions to do the right thing, we acted too quickly,” added Arnold.
“We recognize the lack of reflection and understanding of the impact of this decision has had on our community. We apologize if our actions showed a lack of support toward any members of our community,” she said.
“During tonight's Regular Public Council meeting, City Council unanimously adopted a motion to immediately display the menorah and nativity scene at City Hall,” concluded Arnold.
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) welcomed Moncton’s decision.
“Today, the City of Moncton took the right step in reversing its reprehensible ban on the menorah from Moncton City Hall,” said FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt.
“This outrageous decision, which flies in the face of inclusivity and equality, should never have been made. At this time of surging antisemitism, our government leaders should be showing their support for and embracing the Jewish community, not adding salt to the wound. We welcome Mayor Arnold’s apology and recognition of the hurt the decision caused to Jewish people in Moncton and across the country,” he added.