It is sad that the Park District of Oak Park, in a village that is so proudly multicultural and whose citizens are so tolerant of one another’s beliefs, has become one of the rare government agencies in the United States to bar display of a Hanukkah menorah on public land. [Does new law say ‘away with the mangers’? News, Dec. 17]
By barring citizens from using its land to exercise their freedom of speech and peaceably assemble in order to exercise their religion, the park district effectively prevents all of us from exercising our First Amendment rights within the entire village, since the park district owns most of the village’s public space. In fact, the park district is so insistent on suppressing a public lighting of a Hanukkah menorah that it has chosen to prevent display of the traditional community Christmas tree, along with red and green Christmas lights, on its land simply in order to prevent placement of a menorah on park district property for the eight nights of Hanukkah.
Your brief editorial refers to an “oversized menorah.” Yet this menorah, a simple electric light fixture that is significantly smaller than a good-sized Christmas tree, is nothing less than a symbol of freedom and justice.
In our view, the park district should not ban the Christmas tree in order to bar the menorah. Instead, the board should join in solidarity with all freedom-loving citizens of Oak Park and support the right of the Jewish community of Oak Park to light the menorah in public and, thereby, to bring light into the darkness.
Merrill Weber, Robin Uchitelle