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Antisemitic vandals target Chanukah menorah in Oakland, Calif.

“It makes me feel angry that this would happen in Oakland, a place with so much diversity,” said Rabbi Dovid Labkowski, a local Chabad rabbi.

Vandalized parts of a Chanukah menorah in Oakland, Calif., Dec. 13, 2023. Photo by Rabbi Dovid Labkowski.
Vandalized parts of a Chanukah menorah in Oakland, Calif., Dec. 13, 2023. Photo by Rabbi Dovid Labkowski.

Antisemitic vandals dismantled a large Chanukah menorah at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater in Oakland, Calif., early on Wednesday and threw its metal parts into the nearby lake. Antisemitic graffiti was also found on a nearby sidewalk.

“It makes me feel angry that this would happen in Oakland, a place with so much diversity,” Rabbi Dovid Labkowski, founder and director of the Chabad Jewish Center of Oakland, told The Oaklandside. “It’s a place we want to live together in peace.”

The menorah, which the local Chabad House has set up publicly for the past 18 years, was erected on Sunday for the holiday.

Menorah Vandalism in Oakland, California
Antisemitic graffiti near the placement of a Chanukah menorah in Oakland, Calif., Dec. 13, 2023. Photo by Rabbi Dovid Labkowski.

City workers retrieved the scattered pieces, and law enforcement was on the scene on Wednesday morning. That night, the Jewish community celebrated at a candle-lighting event that drew hundreds, including Rob Bonta, the state’s attorney general.

“The destruction of the menorah at Lake Merritt in Oakland and the accompanying hateful graffiti is an outrage and an act of cowardice,” stated Nancy Skinner, a member of the state senate.

The lawmaker said she applauded the city mayor’s request that police investigate the incident as a potential hate crime.

Menorah Vandalism in Oakland, California
The new menorah at a Chabad Chanukah celebration in Oakland, Calif., on Dec. 13, 2023. Photo by Rabbi Dovid Labkowski.

A Chanukah car-menorah parade concluded at Lake Merritt on Wednesday night. A new menorah was lit, replacing the vandalized one.

The antisemitic graffiti and destruction of the menorah follow a “teach-in” last week,  during which the Oakland Education Association, a teachers union, called for city teachers to use pro-Palestinian lesson plans about the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, which the U.S. government designates as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Dozens of teachers reportedly participated in it.

A coloring book for elementary-school students recommended for the teach-in states: “A group of bullies called Zionists wanted our land, so they stole it by force and hurt many people.”

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