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The Anti-Defamation League on Monday condemned the "despicable" removal of a Hannukiah in Moldova, apparently led by an Orthodox priest. Video footage of the event, uploaded to YouTube, shows a group of dozens of people looking on as the menorah is pulled down down with hammers and iron bars and replaced with a cross.
Officials in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau said that the 1.5 meter-tall ceremonial candelabrum was retrieved, reinstalled and is now under police guard.
The video shows an Orthodox priest, identified by Moldovan media as Fr. Anatoliy Chirbik, leading the Sunday demonstration at Stefan the Great Square and saying, "We are an Orthodox country. Stephan the Great defended our country from all kinds of kikes, and now they come and put their menorah here. This is anarchy."
Police said they were investigating, and that there was no official reaction from Moldova's Orthodox Church, which is part of the Russian Orthodox Church and counts 70 percent of Moldovans as members.
The national government said in a statement that "hatred, intolerance and xenophobia" are unacceptable.
Jewish leader Alexandr Bilinkis called on the Orthodox Church to take a position over the priest's actions.
In a statement released Monday, the ADL urged both the Moldovan government and the Orthodox Church to bring those responsible to justice.
"The Moldovan government and the Orthodox Church must punish the perpetrators of this despicable anti-Semitic crime and send a clear signal to Moldovan society and to the Jewish community that the government and the church will not tolerate anti-Semitism," ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman said in the statement.
The Jewish community in Moldova was thriving before World War II but there are now estimated to be just 12,000 Jews in the former Soviet Republic. Twenty years ago there were 66,000 Jews. Many emigrated to Israel.
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