CHICAGO (Dec. 11)
A year-long dispute over erection of a Christmas nativity scene on property of Skokie Village ended today with a decision by village officials to allow a creche again this year.
Two rabbis who had been named to a Skokie Human Relations Commission, set up to deal with the issue, protested the plan but were overruled by their Catholic and Protestant fellow members. The commission then announced it had decided to set aside space in the Skokie Village hall to be used by citizen groups, subject to approval by the village board.
Rabbi Karl Weiner asserted that “anti-Semitic elements in the community have used this opportunity to stir up animosities and hostilities. At the same time I have been most disturbed by the display of shameful groveling before the mob” at a stormy open meeting of the human relations commission “by some of our Jewish citizens.”
The North Shore chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union raised a constitutional challenge, asserting that the village board’s decision “ignores the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.” Bernard Marsh, village manager, said that a creche had been set up in front of the village hall for the past 15 years.
Last year a citizens group contended that the creche might be unconstitutional and plans were made to eliminate it. When some elements in the community threatened to demonstrate against dropping the creche, Marsh called Skokie village Jewish leaders together. They agreed to allow the creche in 1960 on condition that a permanent answer to the problem was worked out in the following spring. However, Skokie had an election in that period and it was kept out of the election by agreement of all candidates.
The village board then set up the human relations commission to deal with this and other intergroup problems. They discussed the creche issue for several months before arriving at the decision not to have the creche in city hall but on village property under private auspices.