Sharing public space

While visiting Cincinnati’s Eden Park today, I happened on a large creche outside the Conservatory. The creche itself was underwhelming, but I was intrigued by the signage accompanying it. I presume it’s intended to double as advertising for the sponsoring business and as an attempt to preempt church-state difficulties, in part by framing the creche as historic. There’s rich material for close reading and rhetorical analysis here.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Conservatory, Chabad was staking a claim to this public space on behalf of Judaism. (Am I alone in being surprised by how plain this menorah is? Aesthetically, the result leaves much to be desired; I’d prefer a kitschy look to this industrial one.) Note that no attempt is made here to “secularize” the display, e.g., by making a claim to historic significance or by marking the display as the work of a business rather than a religious organization.

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