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Los Angeles Jewish Community Grapples with Fear Amid Hanukkah Celebrations

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Nimrah Khatoon
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Los Angeles Jewish Community Grapples with Fear Amid Hanukkah Celebrations

In the city of Los Angeles, California, a wave of apprehension has swept over some Jewish residents, causing them to think twice about displaying Hanukkah decorations this year. This unease comes in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict, with fears of antisemitic reactions burgeoning in the hearts of the Jewish community. The implications of this conflict have transcended borders, casting a shadow over the joyous Jewish festival of Hanukkah.

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Fear Over Faith

Adam Kulbersh, a resident of Studio City, has made the difficult decision of not explaining the situation to his young son or hanging a menorah, a traditional Jewish candelabrum. His choice is not born out of faithlessness, but rather an attempt to evade the potential threat of unwanted attention. Similarly, a store owner nestled in the Hollywood Hills has broken a 30-year tradition of displaying a large menorah, citing concerns of potential harassment or vandalism. The requests for anonymity when speaking to the LA Times by some individuals further underline the heightened concern for safety within the Jewish community.

Stand Against Fear

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Despite the cloud of fear, there are members within the Jewish community who remain determined to express their faith and participate in Hanukkah festivities. Rabbi Nolan Lebovitz staunchly asserts the importance of Jews being able to live and practice their faith openly in Los Angeles. The strength and resolve of the community are palpable as they defy the fear that threatens to quash their celebrations.

Acts of Solidarity

The story is not merely one of fear but also one of resilience and unity. UC-Berkeley professor Ethan Katz, despite experiencing a direct incident of antisemitism, remains unbowed. The narrative is punctuated by acts of solidarity, such as 'Project Menorah' launched by Adam Kulbersh. This unique initiative encourages non-Jews to display menorahs in their windows as a show of solidarity, a beacon of hope in the midst of the escalating tension. Even as some Jewish residents choose to forgo decorations, their non-Jewish friends stand by them, offering to display menorahs in support of their decision, a testament to the spirit of unity that prevails despite adversity.

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