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November 25, 2009
Posted in General Interest

Decorating for the Holidays

As the holiday season is upon us, I’m reminded of a story about Christmas decorations in a condominium building’s common element lobby. The friend who told me this story was a resident owner in the condominium building, and she happened to be Jewish. My only source of this story is her, so please keep that in mind as you read along.

Upon returning home one day in early December, the lobby of her building was decorated with dozens of poinsettias (a red and green house plant that is commonly used as a Christmas decoration). My Jewish friend was not impressed by the display, because in her view it failed to represent the building’s diversity, and in particular, the large numbers of Jewish residents like her. She then wrote an email to the board of directors, asking if she could add a menorah to the lobby (a menorah is common symbol of Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday which also occurs in December). 
The board of directors responded that they had considered this option and that she would not be permitted to place a menorah in the lobby. My friend was infuriated. The board further explained that in past years they had placed a menorah in the lobby, but stopped this practice after the menorah was vandalized by a resident, whom they believed was anti-Semitic. 
Did the board do the right thing by refusing to place a menorah in the lobby? Does it matter what their reasons were?
In my view, it was reasonable for the board to decorate the lobby with poinsettias. As long as residents would prefer to have some holiday decoration over none, this was the best the board was able to do after considering a number of options.
Do you agree with the board’s decision? Or do you think my friend had a legitimate expectation that the “holiday” decorations in the common element lobby include a reference to Judaism?
Please feel free to leave a comment and share your view.

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