Boca Raton Under Fire for Menorah Display


(JTA) — A Catholic civil rights organization is accusing Boca Raton, Fla., of discrimination for buying and displaying menorahs in public buildings without including a nativity scene.

"The City of Boca Raton is effectively discriminating against Christians by allowing one religious symbol, namely the menorah, to be displayed in public buildings, while censoring nativity scenes," Catholic League President Bill Donahue said in a statement issued Tuesday.

According to the statement, the U.S. Supreme Court and district courts recognize the menorah as a Jewish religious symbol.

"Moreover, the menorah symbolizes a miracle that is recognized in Judaism as the religious symbol of Hanukkah," the statement said.

The displays in Boca Raton’s public buildings are "City-owned decorations and are comprised of a Christmas tree, a menorah, and a ‘Seasons Greetings’ sign, and may include garlands, winter decorations (such as snowflakes and snowmen), and/or lights," Boca Raton Assistant City Manager Michael Woika said in a statement e-mailed to the Sun-Sentinel newspaper.

"If you’re going to have, in public buildings, a Jewish religious symbol and Christians are told to settle for their secular symbol, that’s a form of discrimination and that’s an affront to the sensibilities of Christians in Boca Raton," Donahue told the Sun-Sentinel.

The Catholic League has offered to send the city a creche to display in a public building.