TEL AVIV – A menorah was found vandalized in a park in New York City after a candle-lighting ceremony marking the first night of Hanukkah.
This is the second time a menorah has been vandalized during the Jewish festival of lights, the first incident occurring on Saturday in Salt Lake City, UT, as reported by Breitbart Jerusalem.
Rabbi Elie Weinstock of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on the Upper East Side discovered the toppled menorah in a local park on Monday morning. Half of it was missing, while the other half was in pieces. The menorah had been lit for a Hanukkah ceremony the night before. Incredibly, some of the lights were still burning despite the vandalism.
“It’s a hit in the gut. It takes a while for it to process,” Weinstock said. “Last night we gathered to kindle the menorah, bringing light to the world, and this morning we found that we were met by an act of darkness. But light always overcomes darkness.”
The menorah was the centerpiece of a ceremony hosted by the local Chabad Lubavitch that was attended by hundreds on Sunday evening. According to Chabad, the menorah was first erected on the Thursday before the festival and had already been knocked down once over the weekend. A passerby apparently restored the menorah to its original position ahead of Sunday’s ceremony.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio responded to the crime, saying, “Incidents like this have no place here or anywhere.” His office added that the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident.
In direct response to the incident, Chabad Lubavitch organized a second lighting ceremony on Monday. This time de Blasio attended in a show of support for the local Jewish community.
At the second ceremony, Weinstock told the crowd, “More light into this darkness. That is how we will be successful as a community, as a city, and as a world that seems to be more and more filled with darkness, we will respond with more and more light.”
Mayor de Blasio gave a speech that echoed Rabbi Weinstock’s words. “This is the epitome of who we are in this city. This is the epitome of who we are, because even when confronted by hatred, by division, we stand up, we show our strength, we show our resilience, we show our love for one another, we show our embrace for all peoples, and yes, the light does triumph over the darkness.”
Rabbi Ben Tzion Krasnianski, executive director of Chabad Lubavitch on the Upper East Side, added, “We want to show the world that the Jewish response to hate is to fight darkness by increasing in light and joy. What happened last night will only unite us, strengthen us and encourage us to do even more.”