A Northern Virginia rabbi, seeking to place a special Jewish candelabrum called a menorah alongside Christmas trees at municipal holiday displays, has received approval in six Northern Virginia communities but has run into opposition in Manassas and Fairfax City.

The Manassas City Council denied Rabbi Yankel Bulua's request Dec. 14 to put a menorah at the Manassas gazebo, where the city Christmas tree is located. The council sent a letter to Bulua that said in part: "There is a consensus that it {menorah} may be considered a religious symbol, but even if it isn't considered a religious symbol the city council does not wish to grant permission for a menorah to be placed in a public place."

On Dec. 15, Bulua, who lives in Fairfax County, told the Fairfax City Council that display of the menorah, as part of the seasonal display at Fairfax City Hall, would be "very much like the Christmas tree -- to promote goodwill to men and mankind, peace and liberty to all."

After an executive session, council member Glenn White said the group would not recommend the display of the menorah.

"The menorah, despite the rabbi's presentation, is a religious symbol," White said. "The city does not want to open the door to anybody who wants to display a religious symbol of any kind."

Bulua said later: "The Christmas tree is religious. The pagans worshiped the Christmas tree. Christians adopted it as their symbol. What Christian doesn't have one during the holidays?"

White said, "We're not prohibiting him from erecting a menorah anywhere on private property. If he wants me to put one in my front yard, I'd be honored."

"The idea that the Christmas tree is not religious is stretching it a bit," said William Des Rochers, a Herndon Town Council member. "I think there's lots of evidence to support that it is. I see nothing wrong with displaying the menorah in Herndon, and that was the consensus of the other council members."

Herndon held a lighting of the menorah on the evening of the 15th, before Bulua's presentation to the Fairfax City Council. Alexandria, Falls Church, Vienna, Reston and Manassas Park have agreed to put up a menorah and have planned ceremonies similar to the one in Herndon.

Bulua is codirector of Friends of Lubavitch Chabad Center of Northern Virginia, a Hasidic organization dedicated to educating Jews about Judaism.