Glenn Youngkin blasts Virginia arts festival canceling Hanukkah celebration: ‘Absurd and antisemitic’

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin did not mince words at the news of an Old Dominion town’s art and music festival canceling a Hanukkah menorah lighting.

On Sunday, LoveLight Placemaking, the nonprofit that runs Williamsburg, Virginia’s 2nd Sundays Art and Music Festival, canceled a scheduled menorah lighting featuring a local rabbi, citing Israel’s war against the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas.

“Singling out the Jewish community by canceling this Hanukkah celebration is absurd and antisemitic,” Youngkin tweeted on Monday.

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“The event organizers should immediately reconsider their actions and move forward with the menorah lighting,” the governor continued.

Fox News Digital reached out to LoveLight Placemaking for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

The festival’s founder, Shirley Vermillion, told local press the menorah lighting was canceled because it “seemed very inappropriate” amid Israel’s war with the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas sparked by the deadly surprise terror attacks on Oct. 7.

“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 said, adding that Christian and other religious groups were denied performances.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin called the cancellation of a Hanukkah menorah lighting by a town’s art and music festival “absurd and antisemitic.” (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

In response to the surprise cancellation, the United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula – which organized the Hanukkah menorah lighting – released a statement saying they are “shocked and alarmed” at the decision to pull the event.

“Yet, appallingly, the event organizer claimed that a Chanukah celebration would send a message that the festival was ‘supporting the killing/bombing of thousands of men, women, and children’ – and even went a step further, by offering to reinstate the event if it was done under a banner calling for a cease-fire.”

“We should be very clear: it is antisemitic to hold Jews collectively responsible for Israel’s policies and actions, and to require a political litmus test for Jews’ participation in community events that have nothing to do with Israel,” they continued. “Those standards would never be applied to another community.”

The organization noted that since “October 7th, we have repeatedly seen cases of Jewish people and institutions – including synagogues, Jewish homes and businesses – being targeted, sometimes violently, by those opposed to Israel or its actions.”

Hanukkah menorah

In response to the surprise cancellation, the United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula released a statement saying they are “shocked and alarmed” at the decision to pull the event. (iStock)

“At a time of well-documented, rising antisemitism, the singling out and targeting of Jews is dangerous and harmful, serving to further exclude and alienate our community,” they wrote.

The holiday of Hanukkah celebrates the Jewish people continuing to practice their religion in secret as the ancient Seleucid Empire religiously persecuted them, leading to the Maccabean Revolt.

The dreidel game – where people celebrating Hanukkah spin a four-sided top while betting chocolate coins, or gelt – is a direct link to that time.

The persecuted Jews would pretend to be gambling when the imperial soldiers would come by before resuming religious services.

The Hanukkah cancellation comes amid an uptick in antisemitism in America. 

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Sunday night saw anti-Israel protesters in Philadelphia stop outside of Goldie Falafel, a Jewish and Israeli-owned restaurant in the city.

“Goldie, Goldie, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide,” the protesters chanted at the falafel restaurant.

The White House and Pennsylvania officials, including Democrat Gov. Josh Shapiro – who is Jewish – denounced the protest as a “blatant act of antisemitism.”

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