Thugs destroy giant menorah ahead of Jewish festival

Rabbi Pinny Weinman with the hastily built replacement menorah
Rabbi Pinny Weinman with the hastily built replacement menorah
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VANDALS smashed a 15ft menorah in the Capital in what police are treating as a hate crime.

The sacred candle holder in St Andrew’s Square is the largest public symbol of its kind in Scotland.

Vandals smashed the aluminium candelabra on Tuesday, just hours before it was set to be lit to mark the first night of the Jewish holiday of Chanucah.

A team of volunteers had to build a new one in less than six hours in order for the ceremony to take place.

The event later went ahead as planned, with a crowd of more than 200 people from the Jewish communities in the Capital and from across Scotland.

The Chabad of Edinburgh, which represents the city’s Jewish community, said the feat was “a modern-day Chanucah miracle”.

Rabbi Pinny Weinman, director of the Chabad, said: “We put up the menorah on Monday afternoon and it was all wired up ready for lighting the following night. At midday on Tuesday I got a call saying the menorah had been totally destroyed.

“It is an important symbol, but we did not cancel the ceremony. We pulled together a team of people to build a new one from scratch, using wood, and it was then spray-painted. It was ready just in time for the lighting.”

Rabbi Weinman said people from all faiths had combined to build the replacement menorah.

He added: “Many people in the Jewish community were hurt by what had happened but we are really appreciative of the support we received from people of all faiths – that was very special to us.

“It really brought people together to see this Chanucah miracle.”

Lothian and Borders Police said officers were investigating the vandalism and treating the incident as a hate crime.

They will also keep watch over the new menorah to avoid a repeat of the attack.

A spokesman said: “Police in Edinburgh are investigating an incident of vandalism in St Andrews Square that was reported to officers on Tuesday, December 20. The incident has been recorded and is being investigated as a hate crime.”

Following the candle-lighting, a Chanucah party was held in a bar at the nearby Harvey Nichols store.

Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, commemorates the victory in 165 BC of a small band of Maccabees over the pagan Syrian-Greeks who ruled over Israel.

They are said to have rummaged through the ruins of their temple and found one jar of oil to light a makeshift menorah they put together. The oil was only sufficient for one night but it burned for eight days.

The eight days were chosen as the symbol to commemorate the miracle of Chanukah in which the menorah is lit every evening, commemorating the miracle.

This year, Chanukah started at sundown on Tuesday and lasts for eight days to Wednesday, December 28.