Vandals destroyed the Lake Merritt Hanukkah menorah early Wednesday morning, tossing its pieces into the lake and scrawling vulgar graffiti on its remains. But the rabbi whose Jewish center put the menorah up says “For every menorah they take down, we are going to put up ten.”
When the celebration of Hanukkah started last Thursday, Bay Area Jewish leaders were concerned that the ongoing Israel-Hamas warfare would bring acts of violence against Hanukkah observances. And a pretty bad example of that has come to pass, as KRON4 reports that Oakland’s Lake Merritt menorah was smashed, thrown into the lake, and vandalized with graffiti at about 1:30 a.m. Wednesday where it had been placed at 12th Street and Lake Merritt Boulevard.
The malicious destruction of a public menorah in Lake Merritt, #Oakland, accompanied by hateful graffiti, is just the latest example of rampant antisemitism tearing apart the Bay Area.— JCRC Bay Area (@SFJCRC) December 13, 2023
There's no room for debate; this vicious act unequivocally deserves condemnation. pic.twitter.com/0ZRWkawGNr
As seen above, graffiti reading “f***ers, you’re org is dying, we’re going to find you, you’re on alert f***ing a**hole” was scrawled onto the menorah's remains. Large wooden pieces of the menorah were also thrown into the lake and found there.
According to NBC Bay Area, Oakland police are investigating the act as a hate crime.
But as of 1:30 p,.m. Wednesday afternoon, rabbis and craftspeople were putting the menorah back together, and vowed it will be lit again Wednesday night. “We are going to rebuild and we are going to build stronger, and we are going to rebuild bigger,” Rabbi Dovid Labkowski, whose Chabad Jewish Center of Oakland put up the menorah, told the Chronicle. “For every menorah they take down, we are going to put up ten. They can destroy our menorah but they can't destroy the light that's within us.”
Oakland’s Jewish community is an essential part of Oakland’s diversity and strength and the City of Oakland takes incidents like the vandalism of the Lake Merritt Menorah very seriously. Read my full statement: pic.twitter.com/atJH3jIlID— Mayor Sheng Thao 盛桃 (@MayorShengThao) December 13, 2023
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao said in a statement, “I want to be very clear that what happened was not just an attack on Oakland’s Jewish community but our entire city and our shared values. We stand together against hate, against antisemitism and against bigotry in any form. And when someone commits such a crime, they are attacking the foundation of our City.”
We are deeply saddened and dismayed to learn of the recent vandalism of the menorah at Lake Merritt in Oakland. AROC stands in solidarity with our Jewish friends, family, members, and neighbors. (⅕) pic.twitter.com/NnVgo3ABbj— AROC #FreePalestine (@AROCBayArea) December 13, 2023
To their credit, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center Bay Area chapter put out a statement saying, “We are deeply saddened and dismayed to learn of the recent vandalism of the menorah at Lake Merritt in Oakland,” and “There can be no question that the destruction of a symbol of Jewish identity on a Jewish holiday is an intolerable act of antisemitism & must be condemned.”
And the menorah will be lit again in a lighting ceremony at 7 p.m. Wednesday night, according to the Chabad of Oakland. That event will be followed by the Oakland Car Menorah Parade.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Oakland Police Department at (510) 238-3728. Tipsters can remain anonymous.
Image: @SFJCRC via Twitter