Santa Cruz Requires Rabbi to Hire Guard to Watch Menorah


menorahAn Orthodox Jewish group in Santa Cruz, California, must spend thousands of dollars to hire a private, 24-hour security guard or abandon its annual downtown menorah this Chanukah after city staff said that for years they have issued the group the wrong permit to erect the menorah.

The correct permit requires round-the-clock security for the menorah during the eight days and nights of Chanukah, said Kathy Agnone, the city’s event permit coordinator. Groups must have the security lined up before the menorah can be approved.

Rabbi Yochanan Friedman of Chabad by the Sea in Santa Cruz said a private guard would cost about $5,000, which might be more than his group can afford. He learned of the city’s decision this week.

“We may not be able to do it if it is financially prohibitive,” said Friedman. “We’ll see if we have enough money to do that, and on top of that, do all the other Chanukah  activities we wanted to do.”

Agnone said the decision to require a new permit from the Jewish group was not prompted by local atheists, who since January have lobbied hard for the menorah‘s removal from public property. Agnone said it was a coincidence that the atheist advocacy and her closer look at city policy occurred about the same time.

“When folks have items needing to stay overnight, they need to have security,” Agnone said. She said the city does not decide permits based on religion and would make the same considerations.

{San Jose Mercury News/Noam Newscenter}


  1. I agree with poster #1, that we live among non-jews in exile and we should not have such public displays (only what Chazal called for – at our houses etc.). However this does not seem correct. I believe that protection against crime is a government responsibility. They even provided protection this past year for that anti-semitic church group that came into our own communities to “protest” against us.

  2. It would seem that this is a completely understandable and wise requirement. If any group is going to want to place something in a public place where all kinds of people — both good and bad — come, it is basic safety for them that they have it constantly protected.