A nativity this week became the second public religious symbol to go up in Van Neste Square under a policy adopted this year by the Ridgewood Village Council.
The display, organized by two residents, was put up Monday at the corner of the downtown park near the intersection of Ridgewood Avenue and Oak Street, according to Heather Mailander, the acting village manager.
It occupies roughly the same spot where a menorah lighting was held last month to mark the beginning of Hanukkah. An informal committee working with Ridgewood’s interfaith community toward the menorah had been the impetus for the council’s approval of a policy allowing such religious displays in that area of the park.
As with the menorah, the residents filed an application and worked with village departments to transport and install the nativity display, Mailander said. According to the acting manager, no other applications have been filed for religious displays through Jan. 3, when the policy expires.
Mayor Paul Aronsohn, echoing a sentiment expressed during hearings on the religious display policy, said the intent from the beginning was to showcase the village’s diversity.
“This was an issue larger than the Jewish holiday – the whole idea [was] permitting religious expression,” Aronsohn said. “That was the intent the whole time. The menorah and Hanukkah coming early kind of forced the issue…but the idea was that this applied to all religious beliefs.”
The council approved a resolution in October allowing religious displays not exceeding 12 feet in height, width or depth at the corner of the park through January, pending passage of a more permanent ordinance.
Aronsohn said work on drafting that ordinance was still underway.
“We want to work through, let the holiday season happen and see what issues come up so we can learn from the experience and reflect that in the ordinance itself,” he said.