A Chapman University student asked the City Council this week to install a menorah to accompany the Christmas symbols that traditionally adorn the historic downtown plaza during the holiday season.
Asher Provda, a political science student at Chapman, requested that the city purchase and set up a menorah in the plaza to "celebrate . . . the diversity of the city."
A Christmas tree, Santa Claus, snowman and Nativity scene currently decorate the plaza.
The menorah, used during the celebration of Hanukkah, is a candelabrum with nine branches. The festival of Hanukkah ended earlier this week, but Provda argued that since the public recognizes the winter holiday season through Jan. 1, "a celebration of the Jewish faith" should also go on through New Year's Day.
Provda said a traditional menorah for public display would be about 8 feet tall and could be "obtained rather quickly" for about $500 if the council approved.
Council members said that they did not object to the addition of a menorah to the traffic circle but that they could not approve its purchase during budget cutbacks.
"I have no problem at all with a complimentary religious symbol there in the plaza," Councilman Mike Spurgeon said. "But I can't see any money going toward it."
City Atty. Robert O. Franks told the council that while the city could be required to display the menorah with other symbols, it would not necessarily be required to purchase one. A menorah could be borrowed or a donation of one could be sought.
Because the matter was not on the regular agenda, the council could take no action. Provda said he would try to find a menorah for the plaza and have the matter placed on next week's agenda.