Page 6 THE VILLADOM TIMES III • June 3, 2009 Ho-Ho-Kus Holiday display issue referred to recreation officials by Jennifer Crusco Last week, Dr. Steven Materetsky approached the HoHo-Kus Council about adding a lighted dreidel “to enrich the holiday display” on the Ho-Ho-Ho-Kus Town Green this December, and Mayor Thomas Randall referred the resident to the recreation commission. Randall told Materetsky the council does not run the holiday celebration. “We control the property…You could work through recreation,” he suggested. The doctor questioned whether recreation officials would refer him back to the council, noting that the green is borough property. “I’d start with recreation,” Randall said, adding that, if he ran into further issues, he would return to the council. “Recreation can give us on opinion,” Council President John Mongelli told the resident. He then asked Materetsky if there had been a problem. The resident said there was no problem, but added that he finds it disheartening to see only one set of symbols at holiday time. Materetsky said he is Jewish and his wife is Roman Catholic, but asserted that he is not looking for the addition of a religious symbol to the December display. He pointed out that a dreidel is a toy used to play a game. The doctor has been seeking the use of a traditional Jewish symbol in the December display since 2007. In December 2008, his proposal to add a dreidel to the green stalled when the council took no action at its last public meeting before the December celebration took place. Materetsky had previously proposed the addition of a menorah, but Mayor Randall encouraged the use of secular symbols for the display. The resident then suggested the dreidel. At press time, Materetsky told Villadom TIMES he had sent an e-mail to the recreation commission in an effort to get on that organization’s June 17 agenda. Last year, Materetsky explained that his request concerns diversity, not religion. In a 2008 letter to Randall, Materetsky wrote, “I will tell you that I absolutely 100 percent agree with you regarding your concerns with the placement of religious symbols in a public forum…While I understand you mentioned that the ‘holiday tree’ and ‘Santa Claus’ are not considered religious symbols (but) rather secular symbols, I think you and I will agree that there is a strong association with these symbols and the (Christian) holiday of Christmas. As I mentioned in previous letters, my wife is Catholic and therefore I have the utmost respect for the observance of the birth of Christ. “Be that as it may, since we agree on the fact that religious symbols should stay clear of the use of public government property, I feel another solution is possible. As it is done in the town of Ramsey just north of us, I feel the use of a lit dreidel would be a great compromise.” He drew a parallel between the dreidel and the tree, noting that the dreidel represents a symbol of the festival of Hanukkah, as the tree represents Christmas. In November 2008, borough officials said they did not wish to add a menorah to the holiday display, as Materetsky had originally requested. They said that no religious symbols are currently part of the annual tree lighting ceremony, and they do not wish to set a precedent. The tree is considered a secular symbol. An advisory from the New Jersey League of Municipalities that is dated Nov. 7, 2008 and signed by Executive Director William G. Dressel Jr., pointed out that “the law remains unsettled concerning displays of religious symbols on government property.” The advisory also states that municipal displays that are “limited to more secular images, like Santa Claus and Christmas trees, are likely to survive constitutional scrutiny” and continues, “Individuals who seek to have a more traditional religious symbol included in the municipal display, such as a menorah or a crèche, argue that their right of free speech is being denied when the municipality does not include it. There is a real danger to the municipality accepting that argument, since that would effectively render the area where the holiday display is placed a ‘public forum.’ Once that occurs, it will be extremely difficult to prevent other displays that individuals or groups wish to see at that location in order to convey their particular message.” Ho-Ho-Kus Seniors will meet on Tuesday, June 9 at noon in the Education Center ADVERTISER of the Hermitage, Just as you are 335 North Franklin Turnreading pike, for a this AD, promusical others gram presented by the Blue read your AD. Knights and Fair Ladies. The seniors meet at noon for beverages and dessert 201-652-0744 and the program will begin at 1 p.m. ADVERTISER The Ho-Ho-Kus Seniors group meets at noon on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month. Residents and former residents age 55 and older can take part in meetings, programs, and trips. For program information, call Joan at (201) 444-4896. Just as you For tripare reading Sue at details, call (201) 444-7235. this AD, others read your AD. Seniors to host historian 201-652-0744