New Bern city leaders agree to display the Menorah for holiday decorations

New Bern city leaders agree to display the Menorah for holiday decorations
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 7:49 PM EST
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NEW BERN, N.C. (WITN) - New Bern City officials say they finally reached a compromise with a local Jewish Temple to display a Menorah with the city’s approval at Union Point Park. The agreement comes after a controversy during a Board of Alderman meeting Tuesday night.

Randy Toran, a New Bern resident, stated “Shame on all of you,” as he pointed to the city officials and walked out of the meeting after the motion to vote on putting up a Menorah at Union Point Park wasn’t seconded.

Thunderous applause followed.

Toran says he was frustrated that the topic was repeatedly put on the back burner.

“There was a lot of shock and horror and dismay in that group of the Jewish community who came out to speak on this issue.”

However, on Friday, progress was made. City leaders and the Jewish Temple met and agreed to display the menorah at the park, to celebrate Hanukkah, where the city’s Christmas tree will be displayed as well.

Bob Brinson, the Ward 6 Alderman says the reason for the city’s initial reluctance with the menorah’s display mainly came from efforts to keep unity.

“We shouldn’t encourage religion, that is the political philosophy of the nation but there are ways that we can show that we are inclusive, and this is one of those ways,” Brinson shared.

Brinson added that religious groups can express their religious symbols at their own expense and the Union Point Park will be open to displaying the menorah year after year along with the Christmas tree.

In response to the agreement, Mayor Jeffrey Odham wrote to WITN that he is “thankful that after a respectful and productive conversation, both sides were able to find a compromise. That is what a good government is all about.”

The Jewish temple is hosting a lighting ceremony at the menorah on December 7th at 5:30 at Union Point Park.