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Pittsburgh Jewish Community Opposes City Funds for ‘nativity Scene’

October 7, 1966
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Pittsburgh’s Jewish community protested today to the City Council against efforts being made by two Council members to authorize the erection of a display in Mellon Square, during the next Christmas season, depicting the “nativity scene” and specifically providing that the figures of Jesus and Mary be included.

The proposal was made in the municipal legislative body by Councilmen Walter Kamyk and Patrick T. Fagan, who said they would oppose a $4,500 appropriation for the Christmas display “if the figures of the Holy Family were not included.” Councilman J. Craig Kuhn objected on the grounds that government funds should not be used to display religious symbols.

Statements objecting to the Kamyk-Fagan proposals were made here yesterday by Vigdor W. Kavaler, chairman of the Jewish Community Relations Council, and David N. Yatzkan, chairman of the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Jewish Congress. Both organizations based their attitudes on the Constitution’s embodiment of the principle of separation of church from state. The JCRC noted that expenditure of “public tax monies to place religious symbols on public properties is in violation of the Constitution.” The Yatkan statement declared the proposal by the Councilmen was illegal but asserted that the AJC chapter would “endorse private funds for such private use.”

The Jewish Chronicle, Pittsburgh weekly, also voiced opposition today to the Council-manic proposal, stating editorially: “The whole matter is not a question of what religious symbols are displayed and to what extent. It is simply a matter of keeping the American Constitutional system of separation of church and state intact and inviolate.

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