Leon County Commission Debates Menorah Display

An 18-foot menorah is the center of attention once again at the Leon County Courthouse. The question is will it be allowed to stand out front?

You saw one at the airport and at City Hall, but not at the Leon County Courthouse. It's a menorah, and last year the county commission was threatened with a lawsuit if it were placed on their property.

The Leon County Courthouse lawn is once again the battleground as Jewish leaders push for the right to put an 18-foot menorah next to a Christmas tree during the holiday season.

Rabbi Schneur Oirechman of the Chabad Lubavitch Center says, "We hope that our legal right of expression will be given as the Supreme Court ruled that we have the right to put public menorahs on public property."

Bob Rackleff, Leon County Commissioner, says, "I'm against it because I don't think our county government has any business sponsoring a religious symbol in front of our courthouse."

Dozens from the Jewish community voiced their concerns about last year's decision. They argued that the menorah was not a religious symbol; rather it was part of a cultural holiday.

Members of the commission were divided on the decision.

Rackleff adds, "But the fact that there is a divided opinion on this tells me that we don't have any business deciding who gets a religious symbol or not."

But in the end commissioners put last year's decision behind them and voted in favor of the menorah.

The rabbi adds, "We agreed to work with the county to find the best place for that so the county can be sure that they won't have legal problems."

Commissioner Rackleff says that not all in the Jewish community want the menorah. He says the Jewish Federation of Tallahassee and two of the largest temples in the county are against the idea.