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December 21, 1984 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-12-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

26

Friday, December 21, 1984 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

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a covered walkway, the rabbi
said.
The Lubavitch effort is not
intended as a counter-effort to
Christian symbols, according
to Rabbi Yitzchak Kagan, but
rather "part of our mission to
educate the Jews about
Judaism.
We are working towards a
high visibility for Chanukah
itself, without involving our-
selves in the political part of
the church-state issue,” the
rabbi said. In the placement
of such symbols we try to re-
main inside the legal bound-
aries."
There are those in the
Jewish community, however,
who feel that this kind of effort
doesn't solve anything and in
fact, is partially responsible
for the wrongful equation of
Christmas and Chanukah in
the. minds of . many. "We
should not be making a moc-
kery of religion — any reli-
'on.," is the way Temple Beth
El Rabbi Dannel Schwartz
summed up the "equal space"
concept.
"Jewish symbols don't be-
long on city property either,"
according to Berkley resident
Esther Segal, who added that
religious displays, whether
Jewish or Christian, didn't of-
fend her as long as they were a
private, rather than a gov-
ernment effort.
The ACLU isn't playing
favorites on the issue of reli-
gious symbols displayed on
government property either.
In Grand Rapids, the civil
rights group lodged a com-
plaint Tuesday over the city's
decision to allow a menorah on
city-owned Calder Plaza.
Grand Rapids officials had
granted permission to Chabad
House, an area Lubavitch
group, to erect the 20-foot high
Chanukah candelabrum last
week.
The City Commission this
week, acting on the ACLU
complaint, decided to let the
menorah stand but will put up
a sign near the display ex-
plaining that the city was not
responsible for construction or
maintenance costs.
There is, according to
Robert Arcand, support for the
removal of city-sponsored
Nativity scenes from public
property among members of
the Christian community. The
executive director of the De-
troit Round Table, National
Conference of Christians and
Jews, feels that the "govern-
ment sticking their nose into
Nativity scenes only contrib-
utes to the melding of the secu-
lar and religious aspects of
Christmas."

The state should in no way,
shape or form be using tax dol-
lars to promote religion," Ar-
cand said, echoing the
thoughts of Lobenthal. "We
would be much better off if
that money was funnelled into
fixing streets or hiring more
police."
The federally-sponsored
Nativity scene in Washington
has drawn opposition from a
broad-based coalition of
Jewish, non-Jewish and civil
rights organizations, includ-
ing the ADL, the Lutheran
Council in the U.S., the Unita-

"Jewish symbols
don't belong on city
property either."

rian Universalist Association
of Churches in North America,
the American Ethical Union
and Americans for Religious
Liberty.
Arcand agrees however,
that actions such as the Sup-
reme Court ruling in the Paw-
tucket case may undermine
any cooperative effort and con-
tribute to a lack of sensitivity
among some Christians. "At
this time of year in particu-
lar," he said, "some in the
Christian community tend not
to be as sensitive to the needs
of others. A large percentage
of Christians probably don't
even realize that Jewish
people don't believe that Jesus
is God."
Community leaders and
residents alike expressed the
concern that court approval on
the creche issue could lead to
further breakdowns in the
First Amendment. In fact, ac-
cording to the ADL's Lobent-
hal, such chinks in the armor
are already appearing locally.
Lobenthal said that the
ADL has fielded a marked in-
crease in 1984 of complaints
from parents concerned about
a new push toward Chris-
tianity in the public schools.
"School projects with religious
themes, previously considered
out of bounds by educators, are
now being handed out by a
number of teachers who,
either intentionally or unin-
tentionally, are pushing their
personal religious beliefs on
their students." This is a re-
versal of a ten-year trend
towards non-involvement in
religious matters by area

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