The first Chabad of Fairfield menorah lighting will be remembered for the masked neo-Nazis who crashed it.
Toting swastika-adorned flags, three members of the White Wolves, a local white supremacist group, shouted obscenities from the sidewalk at 25 people gathered to celebrate Hanukkah last year on the Sherman Green.
Chabad of Fairfield members did their best to ignore the anti-Semitic spectacle. But this year, for the second annual event, many resolved to make a statement.
“Because of the disturbance last year,” said Fairfield resident Linda Dukes, “I wanted to be here. A lot of us feel that way.”
Until Sunday, Jonathan Lerner had never been to a public menorah lighting. But when he learned Chabad of Fairfield was hosting one that afternoon, he said he felt it was his duty to attend.
“We heard what happened last year, so we wanted to be sure to be here this year — just in case something bad were to happen again,” said the Fairfield resident.
“It was important to us that we show support for each other and for this event.”
“It’s freezing,” he added, climbing the steps of the gazebo for a helping of latkes. “But the sense of community here is warming our hearts.”
Many in the crowd of more than 60 people gathered on the green to toast the fifth night of Hanukkah came out specifically to prove a point — it would take more than a trio of cloaked skinheads to shake a peaceful gathering for the Festival of Lights.
The event unfolded as planned, without acrimony. Just in case, Fairfield police officers stood by as Rabbi Shlame Landa bent over a nine-foot tall silver menorah, distributing a small flame.
“The menorah is the proof that light will always prevail over darkness,” he said, “and good will always prevail above evil.”