Members of a Montgomery County, Maryland, synagogue jumped into action to repair a bent menorah they said was vandalized hours before the first light was set to be lit for Hanukkah.
Rabbi Bentzy Stolik said it happened Thursday at the Chabad of Olney — which has been located on 17320 Georgia Avenue for around 10 years.
Stolik said the group hung a “Happy Hanukkah” sign on the menorah in the afternoon and around 4 p.m. he began receiving phone calls reporting that something was up.
“I rushed over and was very distraught and disappointed, it was very clear that the menorah was vandalized,” Stolik said.
The menorah was “bent” and knocked over, but the rabbi said help arrived soon after to repair the menorah in time for the first lighting.
“Some handy individuals managed to be able to get this thing up standing again and we have a temporary fix,” Stolik said.
Montgomery County police were on the scene and a spokesperson told WTOP the department is investigating what happened. Stolik said a driver passing by called police after seeing the menorah damaged.
The synagogue has been working to install cameras, which he said is related to events following the onset of the recent Israel-Hamas war.
“The fact that we’re getting cameras up is absolutely a response to the mood of what’s going on,” he said of the war.
Anti-Jewish hate crimes have often increased during violent Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, The Associated Press reported.
Stolik said security is advertised as part of the synagogue’s Hanukkah celebrations: “We’ve never done that before.”
“We certainly are going to be taking steps for safety and security,” he said. “But that being said, in terms of the heart and soul in the spirit of the holiday, Hanukkah is all about overcoming challenges and these challenges don’t stop us.”
Though he called the experience of being vandalized “very painful,” Stolik said the community is looking forward to two events the synagogue has planned for next week.
“We know there’s pockets of hate, we know there’s pockets of darkness,” he said. “But this only inspires us to want to continue to do what we do and to celebrate even more.”
WTOP’s Jessica Kronzer contributed to this report.