A 9-foot menorah was placed at the Capitol Campus near Tivoli Fountain on Friday, coinciding with the first evening of Hanukkah.
The display is the first allowed under a new state policy that limits displays on state-owned property to the outdoors. A second menorah went up in state-owned Sylvester Park downtown; both menorah requests came from the Chabad Jewish Discovery Center of Olympia.
A placard from Seattle atheists is expected to be placed near Tivoli Fountain about 11 a.m. today. The atheists’ display will be placed about 25 feet from the menorah, spokesmen for the Department of General Administration said.
Other than a state-sponsored “holiday” tree that was lit inside the Capitol Rotunda on Dec. 4, no requests for displays are pending this year, GA spokesman Steve Valandra said Friday. That is in contrast to more than a dozen displays in the Legislative Building last year under the old policy, including a nativity set and an atheist group’s placard, which created a controversy.
Rabbi Cheski Edelman said a state rule forbids unattended electrical displays, so he plans to turn on the candelabra’s electric lights and stay near the display a few hours each night, starting about 5 p.m. Sunday, on the Capitol lawn.
The menorah has eight elec- tric lights, one for each night on which Hanukkah is obser-ved.
“What this essentially does is represent freedom of religion,” Edelman said.
Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688