SAN ANTONIO – A local rabbi paused a Hanukkah celebration Monday evening to comment on disturbing graffiti sprayed Sunday along the Woods of Shavano neighborhood.
The graffiti included phallic symbols, and mentioned Jews, the Ku Klux Klan and hateful comments about the gay and transgender communities.
The hateful display couldn't stop a joyous Hanukkah celebration.
"People are here to celebrate, regardless of whatever else might be going on around us," said Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham of Congregation Agudas Achim.
Hanukkah songs, dreidel games and fun outfits filled the parking lot outside Shipley's Donuts on Blanco and Bitters roads Monday night.
It was hard to tell if the Jewish community was one of the groups targeted by Sunday's graffiti.
"Sort of an irony that it would happen on the first night of Hanukkah. You know, the story of Hanukkah teaches us to stand up in the face of those who are trying not only to persecute us but try to stop us from our religious freedoms," Abraham said.
Abraham said whether the graffiti was serious, or just teenagers fooling around, it's unacceptable and has become too common.
Two years ago, multiple synagogues were defaced with anti-Semitic symbols and words.
San Antonio police have not released the full report yet on Sunday's vandalism, determining whether or not this was a hate crime.
"I think if people have a better understanding that there are real consequences to their actions, we have a better chance of putting a stop to it," Abraham said.
He said action through education is key.
"Getting youth together and educating them on each other's religions and differences is the only way we're going to solve this long term," Abraham said.
That's a main reason why organizations and congregations have begun to host so many Hanukkah celebrations publicly throughout San Antonio.
Sunday saw the first-ever candle lighting ceremony at Sea World and the annual lighting at the Pearl was Monday night. The events, open to everyone, displayed diversity and unity.