Hanukkah menorah
Hanukkah menorah iStock

The annual eight-day Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is generally accompanied by a spike of antisemitic incidents worldwide, and this year was no different, unfortunately.

The high visibility of the “Festival of Lights,” with menorahs on display in prominent open locations and the windows of private homes, provides an easily-accessible, target-rich environment for Jew-haters.

During Hanukkah this year, which ran from November 28th-December 6th, the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) Information Hub monitored 17 reports of antisemitic incidents specifically tied to public menorah displays or other Hanukkah celebrations.

In the United States, a 460-pound steel menorah placed in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was damaged by unidentified vandals. In the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland, a rock was thrown through the front window of a home where a mother, father, and their two children had lit the candles of their menorah just minutes earlier.

And in the Hollis Hills neighborhood of Queens, New York, a large menorah set up on a traffic island was knocked into the road and had most of its lights broken. This occurred at the same site where a menorah was toppled twice by vandals in 2014.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, anti-Israel messages were drawn in chalk outside the Hillel center on the first night of Hanukkah.

In Los Angeles, California, an antisemitic leaflet was found at the base of a menorah standing outside Congregation Mogen David, in the Beverlywood neighborhood. And in nearby Hollywood, a man driving a white pickup truck stole a six-foot tall menorah from the yard of a home.

Back on the East Coast, in Medford, Massachusetts, near Boston, the Jewish community was riled by a municipal public menorah display that many viewed as antisemitic.

The mayor of Medford ended up issuing an apology for the display, which featured a backwards-facing menorah and an explanation of the candles’ symbolism that included Christian references.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean, in London, England, a group of young Jews celebrating Hanukkah were attacked by a group of men shouting antisemitic slogans, giving Nazi salutes, and slamming and spitting on their party bus as it drove down Oxford Street.

Also, in the Primrose Hill neighborhood of London’s Camden borough, a publicly-displayed menorah was tipped over and bent in half by vandals.

In Hof, Germany, a menorah put up outside St. Mary’s Church was hit and damaged by a truck, the second such incident at the location since 2019. And also in Germany, a menorah on display in central Nuremberg was damaged twice by vandals.

In Eastern Europe, the country of Ukraine saw a series of menorah desecration incidents, in Kyiv, Dnipro, Kryvyi Rih, Uzhhorod, Rivne, and Nikolaev.

Overall, including occurrences not directly related to the Hanukkah, there were 48 new media reports of antisemitic incidents last week, including a string of physical assaults on Jewish children in Brooklyn, New York, and the graffitiing of a shop in Savona, Italy, with antisemitic symbols and language.

The rash of antisemitic incidents during Hanukkah highlights the need for law enforcement agencies to prioritize the protection of Jewish sites, particularly during major holidays, when the threat of antisemitic vandalism and violence always rises.