LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A member of the Chabad of the Bluegrass was hospitalized Saturday after police said he was assaulted by a driver during a menorah lighting ceremony at the Chabad House in Lexington. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime.
Police said the driver -- a man in his 30s who has not yet been identified -- shouted racial slurs at the congregation, hit the victim with his car and drove away. According to Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, a car pulled up, nearly hit the volunteer camera crew and the driver began yelling abusive language. A community member who was assisting in the lighting heroically stepped between the assailant and the Chabad house where several children were in the front room. The attacker grabbed the man and held his arm, dragging him for a block, and running over his leg. The car then sped off.
Litvin said the victim insisted on staying to light the menorah before he was taken to the hospital. The victim has been released from the hospital and is recovering at home.
The assault comes roughly one month after the sign at the UK Jewish Center was vandalized with antisemitic references.
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
"We appreciate the quick response of the Lexington Police Dept, and EMS, and the attention paid to this by law enforcement," Litvin said in an email to LEX 18. "We also are grateful for the outrage shared by leaders including Mayor Gorton, the Attorney General, Treasurer Ball, and others."
UK President Eli Capilouto released the following statement regarding the incident.
“Chanukah is a festival of lights – the light of religious liberty to which we all are entitled as part of our shared humanity. 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. I am deeply saddened to learn of the hate incident last evening at the Chabad of the Bluegrass near our campus, ironically occurring in the midst of Chanukah. The person who was injured is in our thoughts and prayers for a full recovery. As the latest lights of Chanukah shine forth, let us be reminded of our mutual responsibility to seek, each day, to let the light of religious freedom and liberty shine brightly for everyone. Hate will have no harbor in our community.”