LoveLight Placemaking, a Virginian art and music festival, cancelled its Dec. 10 Hanukkah menorah lighting due to tensions arising from the Hamas-Israel war, the Virginia Gazette reported Sunday.
Shirley Vermillion, the festival’s founder, said the menorah lighting “seemed very inappropriate” given the conflict, she told the Gazette. Vermillion also said logistically there was no space for the public lighting at the festival, and claimed the board did not want to play into religious identities. (RELATED: Son Of Hamas Founder Takes A Harsher Stance Against Terror Group Than American Progressives)
Hanukkah celebration at Williamsburg festival canceled due to Israel-Hamas conflict https://t.co/hkBUebp7os
— The Virginia Gazette (@vagazette) December 4, 2023
“The concern is of folks feeling like we are siding with a group over the other … not a direction we ever decide to head,” Vermillion told the Gazette. She noted the festival previously turned down requests from religious groups to perform at their event.
But the United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula (UJCVP) claimed the festival organizer believed lighting a menorah would send a message LoveLight Placemaking was “supporting the killing/bombing of thousands of men, women, and children,” according to a UJCVP statement. The festival allegedly claimed they would only allow the holiday celebrations if the Jewish community involved in the lighting would call for a ceasefire to the Israel-Hamas war, according to UJCVP.
UJCVP argued this standard of holding Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s policies was itself antisemitic, and said this event had nothing to do with the Israel-Hamas conflict.
“Excluding Jewish participation from a festival that should welcome everyone undermines its very message. We call on LoveLight Placemaking to reconsider our request to engage in dialogue, educate themselves on the harmfulness of their decision, and reinstate the apolitical Menorah ceremony at the event,” UJCVP wrote in their press release.
This is not the only incident involving the holiday in the United States. One town in Maine replaced a Star of David with a dreidel for “a holiday light display,” Newsweek reported. An attempt to limit the public lighting of the Hanukkah menorah in London over similar reasons was recently reversed after major outcry.