The Ellises, a Jewish family from a Phoenix suburb, were shocked to discover early Friday that a large homemade menorah that they had placed on their lawn had been vandalized and reshaped into a swastika.
"My husband built the menorah [fashioned from piping] to celebrate the Hanukkah holiday after our kids asked for their own holiday lights for the season," Naomi Ellis wrote on Facebook on Friday.
"We live in a great neighborhood with kind and welcoming neighbors. We never would have imagined that someone would spread so much hate here. However, this morning we were greeted with this horrible act of aggression."
Ellis called the police before dawn on Friday after her husband, Seth, discovered it. She noted on Facebook that a police officer helped her take the swastika down before her children might wake up and see it.
In an incident earlier in the week outside a synagogue in another Phoenix suburb, Sun City, a menorah and Holocaust memorial were vandalized, the Arizona Republic reported on its website.
The local director of the Anti-Defamation League, Carlos Galindo-Elvira, told the newspaper that there has been an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the area in recent weeks, including confrontations with Jewish children at school and swastikas on cakes, in addition to the menorah vandalism.
In the incident involving the Ellises, the menorah was replaced and rededicated on Friday in the presence of two area rabbis and a crowd of local residents. "Seth said he was shocked to find the menorah desecrated but the outpouring of support has been 'mind blowing,'" the Arizona Republic reported.
"[Rebuilding the menorah] would be in keeping with the story behind the holiday of Hanukkah," religion reporter Julie Zauzmer noted in the Washington Post. "When the [T]emple in Jerusalem was desecrated by the army of Antiochus, Jews rebelled, reclaimed their holiest space and rekindled the light inside."
Writing before the vandalized menorah was replaced, Zauzmer remarked: "The word Hanukkah means 'rededication” — just what the Ellis family and their Arizona community will now do."
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