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Canada: Jewish Menorah won't be displayed outside Moncton city hall for first time in 20 years. Allahu Akbar!



For the first time in 20 years, the menorah will not be displayed outside Moncton city hall during Hanukkah.
Francis Weil, president of the Moncton Jewish Community, says the city's decision not to allow the menorah is a profound "hurt" to the people he represents.
Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold conveyed the decision to Weil on Monday.
At the meeting, the mayor said "city hall should be neutral as far as religion is concerned," Weil said.
He said the decision was further discussed Thursday, when Arnold met with Weil and other members of the community.

Mayor cited Supreme Court ruling​

Weil followed this up with a news release, saying that in making the city's case, Arnold cited a 2015 Supreme Court ruling against municipal councils opening their meetings with prayer.
Weil called the court ruling about council meetings a "pretext."
Despite numerous efforts to speak to Arnold and city spokesperson Isabelle LeBlanc throughout the day Friday, CBC News was unable to confirm the menorah decision or the rationale for it. There was no response at all.
Older man wearing blue shirt looking at camera.

Francis Weil, president of the Moncton Jewish Community, says the recent decision might hurt Moncton's reputation as a welcoming city. (CBC News)
Meanwhile, Christmas symbols, including angels with trumpets, are on display outside Moncton city hall. In light of the menorah decision, Weil called this "an indicator of discrimination."
"On the ground of city hall, there will remain a large Christmas tree, and there will remain angels flying around city hall," Weil said.

"We have absolutely nothing against the Christmas tree. We feel it is beautiful to have the Christmas tree, and we have nothing against the angels. But how can you justify having religious symbol from one religion and banning something from another religion?
Large Christmas wreath and ornamental angels on front of building.

Weil questions how the city can justify having Christmas decorations on front of city building while banning the menorah. (Ian Bonnell / CBC News )
The menorah, a nine-branched candelabra, or "chandelier," as Weil describes it, represents freedom and "celebrates tolerance for all religions in the world."
He said the decision not to allow this symbol of peace has him questioning the inclusiveness of the city.

"Last night I sent a message to the mayor telling her that we have to be careful. We cannot hurt the reputation, the good reputation of the city of Moncton."

Selective interpretation, lawyer says

Moncton-based lawyer Leigh Lampert, who is a member of the Moncton synagogue board of directors, attended the Thursday meeting as a member of the Jewish community.
He said that the decision, made "behind closed doors," was based on principles of separation of church and state as a rationale, saying, according to Lampert, "city hall was the people's house. It was not a place for religious symbols."
Man in blue suit smiling at camera

Leigh Lampert, a Moncton-based lawyer who attended a meeting with the mayor as part of the Jewish community, says 'separation of church and state' is only valid when applied consistently. (Submitted by Leigh Lampert)
"In response, I said that you can't pick and choose. If you're going to separate church and state, you can't have any religious symbols whatsoever," Lampert said.

"You know, there are Christmas trees at city hall. There are, in downtown Moncton, lamp posts decorated with angels which have religious connotations."
Hanukkah begins Thursday at sundown.
"Usually the menorah is put on about two or three days before Hanukkah starts and is left there for the full 8 days of Hanukkah," Weil said.

"There is a public ceremony, where people are invited to come and to see us in the evening lighting either the first light or the first two lights of the Menorah."

Weil said there are about 120 Jewish people living in Moncton, spread among about 60 families.