On Bay Harbor Islands, A Woman Fasts While a Region Struggles With Competing Decorations

February 29, 2004

Source: The Miami Bureau


On February 29, 2004 The Miami Bureau reported,"In an effort to maintain harmony between two dominant religions, the Bay Harbor Islands town council sparked a battle that has lingered long after the holiday decorations came down. For years the 5,000-member community lined its main street with poinsettias.

After some Jewish residents complained about five years ago, town leaders agreed to put up some stars of David and a giant Menorah next to the toll bridge over the Broad Causeway that leads from the mainland through Bay Harbor Islands to Surfside and Bal Harbour. Last December, Sondra Snowden started fasting, seeking equivalent Christian holiday decorations.

Sixty-seven days later and 27 pounds lighter, she says she's still on her liquid diet.

South Florida has long had a reputation for religious tolerance in comparison to other parts of the country. Orthodox Jews walk to synagogue while their neighbors drive to church. A Santeria priest ran for city council in Hialeah and even newspapers make an effort to spell Vodou in Haitian Creole.

But with this tolerance, the line between celebrating religion and endorsing one has become increasingly fine. In Bay Harbor Islands, the philosophy of separation of church and state has met the reality of competing holiday decorations. As a result, a court could end up deciding whether the Star of David is equivalent to a poinsettia."