Jewish Synagogue in Arizona Gets Outpouring of Support After Vandalism During Hanukkah

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Congregants at a Jewish synagogue in Sun City received an outpouring of community support this week after vandals attacked a Holocaust memorial and menorah on the first night of Hanukkah.

“It was just very shocking,” said Irene Smith, president of Temple Beth Shalom. “To think they would desecrate the Holocaust memorial. It’s very hurtful … We have people who are survivors, and it’s very painful for them.”

A menorah is a display of nine candles illuminated consecutively during the Jewish religious festival known as Hanukkah, which this year began on Christmas Eve. Smith said tire tracks indicate trespassers drove a truck across synagogue property on North 101st Avenue sometime late Friday or early Saturday, then twisted two of the menorah’s arms and its metal foundation.

“It looks like they rammed it with a truck, and when it didn’t give … they wrapped a rope or chain and tried to drag it,” said Rabbi Sheldon Moss.

The intruders also removed fencing around the Holocaust memorial and damaged metallic flames marked with the names of concentration camps operated by the Nazis during World War II.

The Beth Shalom menorah stands nearly 10 feet tall and is partially made of copper, which is a target of recycling thieves.

Maricopa County sheriff’s officials on Tuesday said in the absence of additional evidence they were not investigating the vandalism as an anti-Semitic attack. They did not respond to additional information requests on Wednesday.

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SOURCE: USA Today; The Arizona Republic, Dennis Wagner