Jewish Man Run over by Driver Yelling Anti-Semitic Slurs at Menorah Lighting Ceremony

Police are investigating an apparent anti-Semitic attack after a driver reportedly ran over a Jewish man during a menorah lighting ceremony in Lexington, Kentucky.

The incident occurred as the congregation was preparing to to light the menorah for the third night of Hanukkah at the University of Kentucky's Jewish Student Center, Chabad of the Bluegrass said on Facebook.

"A car pulled up, nearly hitting the volunteer camera crew and the driver began yelling abusive language," the post said. WKYT reported the driver was using anti-Semitic slurs.

"A community member who was assisting in the lighting heroically stepped between the assailant and the Chabad house as several children were in the front room.

Tonight, as we were preparing to light the Menorah for the third night of Chanukah, a community member was assaulted outside the Chabad House.A car pulled up, nearly hitting the volunteer camera...

"The attacker grabbed the man and held his arm, dragging him for a block, and running over his leg. The car then sped off."

Brenna Angel, a spokesperson for the Lexington Police Department, told Newsweek that an investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Officers were dispatched to the scene at around 7.30 p.m. on Saturday, she said.

Angel said the victim was standing on the curb when a driver in a dark-colored SUV pulled up next to him, Angel said.

"Words were exchanged between the two, including possible antisemitic statements by the driver. The driver grabbed the victim's arm and accelerated the vehicle, dragging the victim. When the driver let go, the victim fell and struck his head on the pavement."

The man was transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

He insisted on waiting for the menorah to be lit before being taken to hospital, according to the Chabad's Facebook post. "Before he left for the hospital, the newest hero of Hanukkah insisted we light the Menorah, and not allow darkness to quench our light," the post said.

He has since been released from the hospital and is recovering at home, Rabbi Shlomo Litvin told The Lexington Herald-Leader. Litvin also told the newspaper that police have a description of the suspect and their vehicle, and that video footage was captured of the incident.

Litvin has been contacted for additional comment.

That this attack occurred on the third night of Hanukkah, during menorah-lighting celebrations, makes it all the more hateful, hurtful and cowardly. I ask all Kentuckians to join me in praying for a quick recovery and join me in rejecting hate. ^AB (2 of 2)

— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) December 13, 2020

Racism and religious persecution have no place here. Police have started an investigation into the criminal incident at Chabad of the Bluegrass on Saturday. Those who violated the law will be prosecuted. Let’s join in the spirit of Chanukah, a celebration of good over evil.

— Mayor Linda Gorton (@MayorGorton) December 13, 2020

Several state Kentucky leaders have condemned the incident, including Gov. Andy Beshear and Lexington mayor Linda Gorton.

Beshear called it an "outrage" on Twitter, adding: "That this attack occurred on the third night of Hanukkah, during menorah-lighting celebrations, makes it all the more hateful, hurtful and cowardly. I ask all Kentuckians to join me in praying for a quick recovery and join me in rejecting hate."

"Racism and religious persecution have no place here," Gorton tweeted. "Those who violated the law will be prosecuted. Let's join in the spirit of Hanukkah, a celebration of good over evil."

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto also issued a statement condemning the incident.

"Hanukkah is a festival of lights—the light of religious liberty to which we all are entitled as part of our shared humanity," he said. "It is a right as fundamental to us as the air we breathe and as ancient as the scriptures that depict people of all faiths and backgrounds who fought and died in search of it."

He added: "Hate will have no harbor in our community."

My statement on the hate incident last evening at the Chabad of the Bluegrass, near our campus.

Hate will have no harbor in our community. pic.twitter.com/2GvQzFy4yK

— Eli Capilouto (@UKYpres) December 13, 2020

Saturday's event was being held in response to an apparent antisemitic attack that took place on the University of Kentucky's campus last month.

"Tonight's lighting was centered around standing up to hatred, following the antisemitic attack at the Chabad at UK Jewish Student Center and the regrettable silence from some in the aftermath," the Chabad's Facebook post said. "The fact that this event to was marred by violence is horrifying, but through it all our Menorah has stayed lit."

The center said its sign and menorah had been vandalized "in an apparent hate crime" in early November.

Hannukkah
Members of Chabad of Midtown light the first candle of Hanukkah in the Hudson Yards on December 10, 2020 in New York City. Noam Galai/Getty Images