On Friday morning, Naomi Ellis woke up to find the DIY menorah made of hardware supplies decorating her family’s yard in Chandler, Arizona into its spiritual opposite: a swastika.
“We talk a lot about the importance of equality and tolerance, loving everybody no matter what,” she told the Washington Post, describing how she had to tell her two young sons about the vandalism. “I had to tell them that not everybody feels that way. Some people are ignorant, and this is what they do.”
“This is the real reality that we live in: People hate us for no reason or want us to feel scared for who we are. That’s not something I wanted to have to tell them,” she added.
Police were said to be investigating the incident as disorderly conduct, and the local Reform congregation Temple Emanuel intends to help the family relight the menorah once it is rebuilt over the next day.
Hate crimes this holiday season have focused on menorahs, a visible symbol of Jewish identity and pride which appear throughout the country in public spaces. Earlier this week, two displays in Brooklyn were found defaced, with their arms torn off and pulled up from their base.
“Local friends, this is the 2nd hate crime perpetrated against our local Jewish community this Chanukah,” wrote Rabbi Schmuly Yanklowitz, the leader of the Valley Beit Midrash in the Pheonix metro area, wrote in a Facebook post. “If you want to show leadership against acts of hate against the Jewish community & against any vulnerable population in our state, please join us at Arizona Jews for Justice. We must never be silent!”
Yanklowitz could not be reached for comment.
Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.