The mayor of Miami Shores, a village in South Florida, felt that it was about time a menorah was placed in the town hall during the holiday season, especially since the area is heavily Jewish.
The proposal by Mayor Crystal Wagar was instead rejected with the Miami Herald reporting that local attorney Richard Sarafan, who is Jewish, argued that placing a menorah in the town hall would lead to a lawsuit. He said that a Christmas tree was allowable because it was viewed as a holiday, not religious symbol. But that placing a menorah on in the town hall opened up Miami Shores to legal troubles.
Shortly after the news of voting down the mayor’s proposal became public, multiple council members said that they hadn’t been properly informed of the proposal’s contents or that proper procedures were not followed during the meeting.
Jewish groups were also upset.
The American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists was particularly aghast that the vote against a menorah came on the evening of Yom HaShoah, writing that the move was “simply unacceptable.”
Bal Harbour Mayor Gabriel Groisman, whose city is nearby, tweeted his shock upon hearing the news.
“Last night, Miami Shores, Fla. rejected Mayor Wagar’s request to put a menorah at Village Hall for the season! Menorahs are displayed in public squares across our nation and country—from Miami City Hall to the governor’s mansion to the White House. This is simply unacceptable.”
In a reply tweet, Wagar said, “Celebrating the diversity of Miami Shores and making all our residents feel welcome is fundamental to me. Know this … the work is not done, and this is not the first marathon I’ve run.”
Some council members are supportive of placing a menorah in the town hall, but said that the issue needs to be revisited with a proper procedural vote, stating that rules weren’t followed during the meeting.
“To be clear, the council did not vote on the issue at the April 6 meeting,” councillor Jonathan Meltz said in a Facebook post. “A motion was made to vote, but no council member seconded the motion. It was unusual for such an important issue to appear on the agenda without any memorandum or written documents.”
Metz, who is Jewish and is supportive of the idea, added, “This is an important issue and should be treated as such. There should be no rush to vote without the same consideration and information provided for every other issue presented to council.”