Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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California Menorah Tossed in Lake by Vandals Who Left Antisemitic Graffiti

A large menorah on display outside a California amphitheater was ripped apart and tossed into a lake Wednesday morning by vandals who left threatening antisemitic graffiti on the sidewalk in its place.

The menorah, placed at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater in Oakland, was found vandalized on the sixth day of Hanukkah, officials said.

“I feel afraid,” Rabbi Dovid Labkowski, of the Chabad Center of Oakland, which set up the outdoor display, told The Oaklandside.

“It makes me feel angry that this would happen in Oakland, a place with so much diversity. It’s a place we want to live together in peace,” Labkowski added.

Oakland Public Works employees worked Wednesday morning pulling metal pieces of the menorah from the lake and scrubbing away graffiti left behind on the sidewalk where the menorah had been erected.

A photo of the graffiti shared online by watchdog group StopAntisemitism shows the threatening graffiti which included “your org is dying,” “we’re gonna find you” and “you’re on f****** alert a******.”

According to the group, “Free Palestine” was also written in spray paint in the same area.

The Oakland Police Department reported that the vandalism occurred around 1:30 a.m. and is being investigated as a hate crime.

The Chabad Center has set up the menorah at Lake Merritt for the past 18 years in celebration of Hanukkah.

This year’s official lighting was attended by over 140 people, including Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, who condemned the act of hate as “not just an attack on Oakland’s Jewish community but our entire city and our shared values.”

The synagogue informed its members of the incident and gave some words of encouragement, saying, “Our enemies show tremendous hate, but we are stronger than that.”

The Arab Resource and Organizing Center, or AROC, which advocates for Muslim and Arab communities in the Bay Area, also shared a statement saying its members are “deeply saddened and dismayed to learn of the recent vandalism of the menorah at Lake Merritt in Oakland.”

The synagogue has launched a campaign to rebuild the menorah at Lake Merritt and put up others around Oakland.

The vandalism isn’t the first antisemitic incident to plague Oakland ever since Hamas launched its attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

Three baristas at Farley’s East, an Oakland coffee shop, were fired after they were filmed gleefully blocking a Jewish woman from entering a restroom that was filled with antisemitic graffiti, telling her “Free Palestine” and accusing her of wanting to use the facilities because “Israel loves taking private property and saying it’s their own.”

The workers, who claim the owner knew about the graffiti for months and scapegoated them, insisted they stand against antisemitism and did not deny the woman entry because she was Jewish.