Wanted: Brightly colored 9-foot menorah
Someone took off with a synagogue's inflatable decoration on the last day of Hanukkah.
By NICOLE JOHNSON
Published January 4, 2006
PALM HARBOR - A menorah taller than NBA star Yao Ming was stolen from a neighborhood synagogue this week.
The 9-foot-tall inflatable menorah sat at the corner of Fisher Road and County Road 39 in front of the Chabad of Pinellas County. (Houston Rockets center Yao Ming is 7 feet 6.)
Rabbi Shalom Adler, who heads the Lubavitch group of about 100 families, most of whom are Orthodox, placed the menorah there Dec. 22. Shortly after service on Monday morning, the last day of Hanukkah, Adler noticed the menorah was missing.
The incident is being investigated as a grand theft, said Sgt. Jim Bordner, Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokesman.
The first day of Hanukkah fell on Christmas Day this year, an occurence that happens every 19 years. The Jewish holiday is marked by lighting the candles of the menorah for eight straight days.
The Chabad of Pinellas County holds a Hanukkah celebration yearly. This was the first year the congregation displayed the large menorah, Adler said.
"We thought it was something cute and new to do; it would capture people's attention," Adler said. "People seemed to like it."
The blue, yellow and red vinyl menorah sat at the corner of the property under a spotlight. The buoyant novelty cost $300, Adler said. It took five hours to inflate.
The only other criminal incident that has occurred at the synagogue happened two years ago when someone broke into the center and smashed the front door, Adler recalled.
The menorah incident is not being investigated as a hate crime, Bordner said. To do so, authorities would have to determine that the motive was driven by hatred toward a group because of race, gender or sexual orientation.
"I believe these are pranksters," Adler said. "There's nobody who has a use for a 9-foot blowup menorah. . . . Nobody can walk through the streets with this."
Nicole Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727 445-4162.
[Last modified January 4, 2006, 01:25:35]
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