Last week, the ultra-Orthodox group Chabad, best known for asking strangers "Are you Jewish?", celebrated Hanukkah at its giant menorah in Brooklyn's Grand Army Plaza.
Chabad is less well known for opposing homosexuality, secular higher education, and women's rights including birth control; and for Israel-right-or-wrong politics that lead its members to vote for conservative, entitlements-opposed politicians even though their own large, poor families often need public benefits. Yet its intolerant "emissaries" proselytize in progressive Park Slope. Some Chabad members even believe that their last leader, the late Menachem Schneerson, never died, or that he did die but will return to life as a messiah.
This menorah's oil lanterns were lit by a cherry-picker, a service donated by Con Edison. One night last week, one day before the Connecticut massacre, an officiant promoted Schneerson's program for a moment of silence in public schools to "promote morality" and "reduce violence."