The holiday season can be really difficult for people who are not Christians in America. After all, we are surrounded by Christian religious symbols, and that dominant religion’s holidays are a national treasure. Most parents of children who are members of minority religions understand this. Therefore, when Naomi and Seth Ellis of Chandler, Arizona, who are Jewish, got a request for lights for the holidays from their children, they said no problem. They went and dropped $100 for a huge Jewish lawn display of an amazing lighted Menorah. Problem solved, right? Wrong.
When the Ellis family awoke on Friday morning, their beautiful gold lighted Menorah had been turned into a Swastika. They then had to explain to their children what happened. Here is an image of the damage:
Naomi Ellis says of how she raises her children:
“We talk a lot about the importance of equality and tolerance, loving everybody no matter what. I had to tell them that not everybody feels that way. Some people are ignorant, and this is what they do.”
Ellis went on to explain that the hateful incident made her 9-year-old-son cry, and how she had to tell him why this happened to their family:
“They know about the Holocaust. They know about Nazis.”
However, the kids, ages 5 and 9, had never been exposed to the Swastika, the symbol of anti-Jewish – and indeed anti anyone not white, straight, and Christian – that was used during that terrible moment in human history. Ellis continued:
“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.”
It seems that the police in that town have yet to treat this as the hate crime that it is, which is in and of itself shameful. The police who came did, however, take the Swastika down so that the Ellis children would not have to see this disgusting display made out of their cherished holiday decorations. The rabbi at the Ellis’s synagogue in Tempe, Arizona, will help do a ceremonial re-lighting of it.
People want to pretend that hate has no place in America. Clearly, there are many who do not agree. If you are not straight, white, male, and Christian, you are under attack in this nation. That should be unacceptable to ALL Americans. May the Ellis family, and all families and people who are not like the haters, rise above this. And may they walk through life in peace and safety. We should all make sure that this happens, and spread messages of love rather than hate at every turn.
Featured image via screen capture from Washington Post/Naomi Ellis