For decades Lakewood Township had a large Menorah display in the town square around Chanukah time. The original menorah was made out of pipe cleaners, but then the Township upgraded to an eight-foot metal Menorah.
Then in 2015 it was removed.
Why? What happened?
Mayor Albert Akerman told the Asbury Park Press a resident Vivian Knight sought to add a nativity scene to the holiday display in the Town Square and that she threatened to sue if the request wasn’t approved. CBS reported the woman claimed to be a member of the Calvary Lighthouse Church. However, the Church denied involvement in the suit.
Township Attorney Steven Secare reviewed the matter and recommended removing the menorah, as well as one displayed in the town hall, until he could look into an alternative display. (AP)
The Township followed Attorney Secare’s recommendation and removed it.
Many NJ towns have an X-Mas tree and a Menorah holiday season. The supreme court has upheld religious displays on public ground. A lawsuit would have absolutely no grounds and the poor decision to remove it got national attentional.
In a classic move, Lakewood resident Harold Hershkowitz was furious, so he took an 8-foot Menorah and put it back in front of town square.
The next morning Lakewood Township removed the Menorah – 7 AM. Local and national media was all over this odd ‘Menorah battle’. Later that day a supreme court attorney called Hershkowitz and said a private citizen is permitted to display a menorah in the Town square and the Township has no right to remove it.
Hershkowitz then put the menorah back and the Township left it.
CBS reported Akerman later regretted the decision to remove the Menorah saying, “The original mistake was to take down the menorah – take down the township menorah – and originally, we were trying to protect the town.”
The story was so viral, the view asked Businessman Donald Trump, at the time, what he felt about “A NJ town that pulled down a Menorah.”
The next year the Township purchased a massive X-mas tree that was put by the lake and put the Menorah by the downtown bus station.
In 2017 and 2018 no Menorah was displayed.
Will the town display a large Menorah, like all other towns do?
GL Predicts a Menorah will be up within a week of this article.