Driver yells anti-Semitic slurs, assaults man during Hanukkah celebration in Kentucky

Driver yells anti-Semitic slurs, assaults man during Hanukkah celebration in Kentucky

A man was injured Saturday during a menorah lighting in Kentucky when a driver yelling anti-Semitic slurs assaulted him, officials and police said.

The assault occurred at the University of Kentucky Jewish Center in Lexington, according to the Chabad of the Bluegrass.

In a Facebook post, the Chabad said the driver pulled up to the university center Saturday night and began shouting abusive language when a community member “heroically” stepped in front of the car.

“The attacker grabbed the man and held his arm, dragging him for a block, and running over his leg,” the group’s post said. “The car then sped off.”

Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, who co-directs Chabad of the Bluegrass and saw the incident, told Chabad.org that the victim is a Jewish veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who did not wish to be identified.

He was taken to a hospital but later released, Litvin told the site.

Police described the driver as a man who had been shouting racial slurs at the congregation before the alleged assault, NBC affiliate WLEX reported.

The incident happened on the third night of Hanukkah. The Chabad said Saturday’s menorah lighting was to focus on standing up to hatred after the University of Kentucky Jewish Center was vandalized last month.

“The fact that this event was marred by violence is horrifying, but through it all our Menorah has stayed lit,” the Chabad said.

Local and state leaders condemned the assault, with Gov. Andy Beshear saying that “hate has absolutely no place” in Kentucky.

“That this attack occurred on the third night of Hanukkah, during menorah-lighting celebrations, makes it all the more hateful, hurtful and cowardly,” he said.

Tim Stelloh

Tim Stelloh is a reporter for NBC News based in California.

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