Some friends in Fairfield, CT told me about an incident last Sunday at their local menorah lighting. Three masked men showed up holding Nazi flags and yelled anti-Jewish remarks at the small gathered crowd. In response, this past Wednesday night the community held another menorah lighting to show that antisemitism, hatred and intolerance would not be tolerated. Over 300 people, Jewish and non-Jewish, participated in a show of unity and strength.
My initial reaction was shock that such a thing would occur in Fairfield and in 2009, although I am not sure why it was such a surprise to me.
The ADL’s 2008 annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents counted a total of 1,352 incidents of vandalism, harassment and physical assault against Jewish individuals, property and community institutions. The report identified 37 physical assaults on Jewish individuals, 702 incidences of anti-Semitic vandalism, and 613 cases of harassment. While this represented a seven percent decline from incidents reported in 2007, the volume is certainly significant.
On this last night of Chanukah, we are reminded of the need to be modern Maccabees as we continue to battle religious persecution. Tonight as we light the eighth candle, I will sing the blessings loud and with pride as we shine the light on the darkness that permeates the ages.