Temple Responds on City Hall Menorah

Temple Responds on City Hall Menorah

Hope, light overcome attack on official Hanukkah symbol

On Friday morning, Dec. 11, the city of Alameda awoke to heartrending news. The Hanukkah Menorah that stands in front of City Hall, had been vandalized. Some lights on nearby bushes had also been damaged, but the Menorah lay there on the ground, surrounded by shards of broken glass.

Hanukkah is a festival of lights that celebrates the triumph of good over evil and freedom over repression. The Hanukkah lights tell the story of a time long ago when the heavy hand of the conqueror tried to force the Israelites to worship pagan gods, but they resisted. A small band of fighters recaptured the Temple during the rebellion of 166 B.C.E., and rededicated and re-sanctified the Temple once more.

The kindling of each of the lights during the eight days of Hanukkah represents the miracle of hope: the hope that we can succeed in bringing light to darkness, that faith and goodness will overcome the forces of chaos; that right will eventually prevail over might. The story has been replayed in history many times, in many different ways, but the hope has never faltered.

We don’t know if the damage done was an act of hate or mindless vandalism. It is very painful nonetheless, and especially painful to our Jewish friends and neighbors who have shared how this felt to them. Seeing the Menorah lying on the ground triggered many feelings and memories: feelings of fear and anger, memories of other times and places when senseless hatred was accepted and violence against minorities taken for granted.

Alameda is a place with a troubled history, but it is also a place that has grown and changed, and there are so many good people here who stand arm-in-arm, sharing and growing the light in all our hearts.

The Alameda All Faiths Coalition, representing many of the diverse religious traditions in Alameda, stands in solidarity against Anti-Semitism, prejudice and intolerance of any kind. There is no place in Alameda for bigotry and hate. We believe that our diversity is our strength. The differences in our beliefs allow us to see the world through many lenses and to learn more about ourselves and our own communities when we learn about each other.

We look forward to joining together to be bearers of light in a world that seems darkened by illness and fear of the other. We look forward to learning more about each other so that we can recognize the face of the divine each time we look into one another’s eyes. We look forward to joining our hands and our hearts as we engage in the task of bringing renewed wholeness and healing to our beautiful Island City, and together do the work of opening our hearts in love to everyone who lives here.

In Faith and Unity.

The Alameda Sun received the following statement from members of the Alameda All Faiths Coalition.