Menorah removed from Lakewood display after lawsuit threat
A menorah was removed from a Lakewood display over fear of a possible lawsuit if a nativity scene was not added to the township's holiday display.
The Asbury Park Press reports Vivian Knight told her minister, the Rev. Wesley L. Lindquist of Calvary Lighthouse, that she thought it would be nice to add a nativity to the Town Square. Lindquist notified Lakewood Mayor Albert Akerman of the idea.
Knight, however, took a far more serious tone at a township council meeting last Thursday and threatened to sue the Township if the nativity suggestion didn't become a reality.
The township's attorney urged the council to take down the menorah and a second one in the town hall while he researched alternatives for the holiday display.
“Why cause litigation when it’s costly and time-consuming for everybody?” attorney Steven Secare told the newspaper. “The easiest thing to do was take it down for a year.”
Lakewood has one of the largest concentrations of orthodox Jews in the country. More than half of the township's residents are orthodox, according to ReligiousNews.com.
The New Jersey League of Municipalities in its holiday display guidelines does not consider a Christmas tree a religious symbol and says it is OK to display.
Akerman did not return a phone call seeking comment about the case.