When Naomi and Seth Ellis’ young sons said that they wanted lights on their house in Chandler, Ariz., the parents knew what to tell their three Jewish boys: Yes.
One trip to Lowe’s, $100 worth of PVC pipe, nine solar-powered lights and a coat of shiny gold paint later, the Ellises had a shining 7-foot-tall Chanukah menorah on their lawn.
But on Erev Shabbos, the Ellises had something new to tell their boys, and they weren’t sure how to say it.
After the boys went to bed on the sixth night of Chanukah, someone dismantled their special menorah and turned it into a giant swastika.
“We talk a lot about the importance of equality and tolerance, loving everybody no matter what,” Naomi Ellis said. “I had to tell them that not everybody feels that way. Some people are ignorant, and this is what they do.”
She watched tears well up in her 9-year-old son’s eyes as she explained.
“They know about the Holocaust. They know about Nazis,” she said. But before Friday morning, the three children – ages 5, 7 and 9 – had never before seen a swastika, the symbol of the Nazi party that carried out the murder of 6 million Jews and of current-day hate groups.
“This is the real reality that we live in: People hate us for no reason or want us to feel scared for who we are. That’s not something I wanted to have to tell them,” Naomi Ellis said.
Seth Ellis, who works in construction, got up Friday morning at 4 a.m. as usual, and saw that while the family was sleeping, the menorah’s joints had been unscrewed and locked back in place in the spidery directions of a swastika. The vandal or vandals had taken some of the pieces entirely. The Ellises called the police.
Chandler Police Det. Seth Tyler said that officers came to the house and spoke to Naomi Ellis. “She obviously didn’t want her children to see a swastika on their yard,” Tyler said. So the officers helped take the structure down.
The officers reported the vandalism as an incident of disorderly conduct and have not arrested anyone, Tyler said. Naomi Ellis has been urging her neighbors to share anything they might have seen with police.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Julie Zauzmer