Fear-inducing menorah goes dark

Fear-inducing menorah goes dark
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Residents fearing the precariously rigged menorah on the Caton Avenue bridge got their Chanukah wish last night: someone snipped the wire to the display, leaving it in the dark.

Just hours after our story about the Kensington Chabad’s menorah appeared online, someone cut and removed the extension cord that dangled over pedestrians’ heads — a move that elicited cheers from critics.

“It’s now dark — and safe,” said resident Scott Teplin, who was worried that wires from the menorah would electrocute someone.

The now missing extension cord once wound through a chain link fence, and hung over the sidewalk before plugging into the base of a nearby street lamp, leaving residents fearful as they walked under it with their kids, particularly during rainy weather.

The connecting wires were sheathed in nothing but a plastic shopping bag when Teplin first found it as he walked his seven-year-old son to school on Monday.

Yet not everyone was happy that Kensington Chabad’s festival of lights was snuffed out.

“I am truly disappointed,” said resident Mike Seltzer. “My three children and I walk by it daily to see the lights go up. We pray without fear.”

A woman we reached at the Kensington Chabad last night said she was aware that the menorah had lost power, but said she did not know who had done it.

Kensington Chabad has maintained that the menorah was permitted — an safe — but neither it nor the city would confirm that the congregation had a current permit.

Teplin had expressed his fears about the menorah on a neighborhood listserv, causing a minor firestorm as commenters accused him of being culturally insensitive, even though the Kensington resident is Jewish.

Other commenters agreed with him about the potential danger posed by the menorah’s haphazard wiring.

Menorahs and religious displays in general have been a point of tension in the neighborhood ever since a menorah was set up at the now defunct Key Foods by a Chabad rabbi in 2009.

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at erosenberg@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.