Juggler Miffed Over Lack of Menorah

Submitted for your discussion, this clip from YourNabe.com:

YourNabe.com : A Brooklyn Heights woman is claiming her freedom of worship is being denied because a menorah is not allowed in the lobby of her co-op building.

Justine Swartz, who also goes by the name Justine Juggler because of her ability to juggle seven items at one time, alleges that this Chanukah it is forbidden to light a menorah and pray in the lobby of her building at 24-30 Clinton Street.

“My building’s menorah lights have been extinguished,” said Swartz. “I have not kept the Jewish commandment that requires the menorah to be lit in a public place.”

Swartz, who has lived in the building for about 25 years, said at one time the lobby boasted both a Christmas tree and a menorah, but now the building is decorated only with non-religious holiday ornaments, reefs [sic] and holly.

Swartz said when she complained to the BPC Management Corporation, who manage the property, she was told, “You wouldn’t want a Nativity scene, would you?”

,But Swartz countered that she wouldn’t mind a Nativity scene and even helped decorate the Christmas tree when they used to put it up until recent years.

She also believes Kwanza[a] should be represented in the lobby.

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  • Sheryl P.

    She says “I have not kept the Jewish commandment that requires the menorah to be lit in a public place.”
    She is slightly mistaken. As a fellow Brooklyn Heights Jew, I feel the need to correct this statement. It is not a requirement to light the menorah in a public place. It is a mitzvah (good deed) to light it by your window so that the public can see it. But there is no commandment in the Torah. Historically, Chanukah occurred after the Torah was written.
    It’s nice to have a menorah in a lobby, or in a public place, sure. But it’s not required, and if there isn’t even a Christmas tree in her lobby, then I don’t see what the fuss is about.

  • John Wentling

    Ah, what happened to the days when Christians AND Jews greeted each other with “Merry Christmas” (or Happy Chanukah), mostly just out of plain old good will. It’s a sad state of affairs, sa’arah b’kos mayim.

    Happy Chanukah, and Merry Christmas.

  • Nick

    Unfortunately for her, First Amendment rights don’t go very far in a private co-op.

  • nystrele

    you know, i was just considering that the decorations in my lobby aren’t gay enough. i mean, where’s the rainbow flag? i’m not the only gay in the building. it’s discrimination, i tell you. i’m going to protest. i’m going to sue. i’m going to throw a friggin fit! it’s prejudice!!! wow, how ridiculous do i sound? not quite as absurd as the offending woman… get over it, lady. hang decorations in your window and celebrate diversity. for god’s sake…

  • AEB

    …or what about atheist decor, which of course is the absence of ANY religious decor.

    Can one decorate with nothing? Well, non-deity knows, I’ve tried….

  • AEB

    (Homer, having difficulty with slow-to-show posts…do you know from this? Thanks.)

  • WillowtownCop

    If this is considered a problem for her I suggest she volunteer at a soup kitchen or a hospital for whatever holidays she celebrates so she can see what real problems look like.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/theyardie/298366254/ David

    I say Christmas, you say Hanukkah. What’s the frigging deal? This woman needs to find a way to entire into reality. Does she expect some magical elves to save her Hanukkah? Posting this story only supports this behavior. Feel ashamed BHB!

  • Eason

    Lobby 1 – Justine 0.

  • F

    One question…why is there a Menorah and no Christmas tree at the Montague promenade entrance? Merry Christmas everyone!!!!!

  • yo

    don’t forget about Festivus!!!!

  • John Wentling

    Ah, it’s the mythical “right against being offended” thing. I’m with “Juggler”, a menorah and Christmas tree is appropriate, not sure how a rainbow has anything to do with the season, but sure, a rainbow ornament on the tree would be okay, the atheists can just grin and bear it – it is what it is.

  • Mickey

    F: I believe that the answer to your question is “timing”. Chanukkah starts tomorrow whereas Christmas is still two weeks away. Now if you were looking for an Advent wreath, I’d say you have a case!

  • aaron

    for what it’s worth, the word “mitzvah” actually translates to “commandment”, not “good deed”–that’s just a common misunderstanding.

    so yes, it is a mitzvah to display a lit menorah in a public place–meaning that jewish law requires that. no, it’s not mentioned in the torah, as that was “written” before the events of the chanukah story. it is in later jewish law.

    that being said, co-op building is not a public place, so majority rules in there

  • Topham Beauclerk


    Why is the word, written, in scare quotes?

  • F

    @ Mickey – the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center has been up and lit since 12/02 – it’s the Christmas season.

  • nabeguy

    Given her complaint, I think she should learn to juggle 8 things…one for each day.

  • travy

    oy humbug!

  • Bart

    Considering that religion was invented by a bunch of old men in the desert trying to explain their fear of the dark, let’s not take it too seriously.

  • No One of Consequence

    If you tell me you would like to make your religious display because it would make you feel better, then sure, no problem.

    But if think you can force me into it because of some belief I don’t subscribe to, well, lotsa luck.

  • aaron

    scare quotes? i was just using quotes as i borrowed, aka quoted, a word from a previous post.

    i used quotes for the word “written” because the old testament was passed down orally for several generations before it was actually written on paper (or papyrus)

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/theyardie/298366254/ David

    You don’t see “quotes” all over our faces do you? Take your propaganda somewhere else!

  • my2cents

    Just don’t put a menorah in the bike lane, Justine or you’ll be juggling vitriol.

  • Cranky

    Her name’s not really Justine. I know her. I guess she wants to remain anonymous, so far be it for me to blow the whistle on her. Shouldn’t you say the name is a pseudonym in the story?

  • nabeguy

    Funny way to remain anonymous. Does her juggling act include identities?

  • Cranky

    nabeguy I’m just feeling Cranky. This story annoys me because this twit ‘Justine the Juggler’ annoys me. She doesn’t need a menorah, she needs a smack – a smack back into reality. GRR.

    I want to say to her what I heard some lady say to her kid the other day in the Fulton Street Macy’s – ‘you better stop that right now before the police get here, cause they are gonna have to call them cause I’m gonna mess you up if you don’t!’

    Feeling the holiday spirit here in Crankyville as you can tell. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HANUKAH AND MERRY KWANZA AND ALL HAIL VERDUCIAN and festivus and blah, blah, blah, blah.

  • Cranky

    oh yeah i’m with travy on this OY HUMBUG!!!!

  • AAR

    Sorry to say — most of the entries above do not reflect the positive spirit that this time of year is supposed to be about whatever the status of a person’s belief, non-belief, questioning…..can’t we just be a little less snarky and a little nicer to eachother? Happy holidays to everyone!

  • Cranky

    AAR with apologies – NO!

  • Curmudgeon

    I suspect that the building is trying to avoid having to decorate with Menorahs, Nativity Scenes, Kwanza and Muslim decorations et al- it does seem that it could get out of hand.

    When I was a boy in the early 1960’s it was only Christmas trees and Menorahs that we saw in Brooklyn, although the nuns informed us, on a regular basis, that the Christmas tree was NOT a religious symbol of Christmas. Trees were generally not allowed in churches, if at all. The Nativity scene was the “proper” thing to use at Christmas – you don’t see Rudolph in a church. It used to bother me (at 7 years old) that there was a non-religious non-nun approved tree and a religious Menorah, but I got over it – it simply is not that important.

    It is a lovely time of year however, and the decorations and lights look nice and people are [generally] full of good cheer. Perhaps we should all lighten up just a bit (believers and non- believers) and channel the energy we are wasting on a decorations discussion and do something nice for someone instead.