Non-Jewish community is irate about Menorah removal

- Its Menorah madness in the last place you'd expect it: Lakewood, one of the largest Jewish enclaves in the Northeast.

A few days ago, the small Menorah which stands next to the town's 30-foot Christmas tree was removed, on threat of lawsuit.

"When I found out that they removed it based on the threat of one single woman -- and then an absolutely inept judgment by our township attorney that it must be removed because it’s illegal -- I got very upset," said Lakewood store owner Harold Herskowitz.

Mayor Albert Akerman explained. "It was taken down because it was our understanding that if we don't take it down that there's going to be a lawsuit which we thought was backed by a local church."

Akerman added that the town has "come to understand that the church is not behind the person who got up at our township committee meeting and told us that we needed to take down the menorah."

Herskowitz put up a new menorah after the original one was removed. 

That one was then taken down by township workers and left at his toy store -- broken in the process.   "That's the same one they took down -- yes.  And when they put it back up -- it's not working correctly.  There are some branches that are not working correctly."

Why was it removed?

A lawsuit probably wouldn't have gone far, since the Supreme Court has upheld religious displays on public grounds. And the state League of Municipalities has guidelines on such displays.

Akerman said a quick decision was made -- but maybe not the best one.  

The Mayor adds that most of the ire about the situation comes from the non-Jewish community.   "That's what I'm coming to understand is that all the tolerant people have no tolerance for intolerance."


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