Teen apologizes for twisting family menorah into swastika

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — An Arizona teenager arrested for twisting a menorah in the front yard of a family’s home into a swastika posted an apology on Facebook.

Clive Jamar Wilson, 19, one of four teens arrested on March 17 for the Dec. 30 incident, told the Ellis family of Chandler that he was sorry, the East Valley Tribune newspaper reported. The Facebook page appears to have since been removed.

“My name is Clive (CJ) Wilson. I am writing this post to say I am truly sorry for the insensitive prank which my friends and I participated in during the holiday season last December. What we did was reckless, stupid, idiotic, and insensitive,” he wrote, according to the local paper. “From the bottom of my heart I apologize to your family. From the bottom of my heart I can tell you that that is not the way of my Jamaican heritage.”

He also reportedly wrote that he “made a mistake when I joined my friends in a very insensitive prank. If I could turn back the clock and remove myself and my three friends from participating in the horrible prank I would. But I can’t.”

Wilson then explained that his father attended a “Jewish university,” Brandeis, and has since taught him about Judaism and its values.

Naomi Ellis on Sunday accepted the apology in a statement to the newspaper.

“We believe that (Wilson) is sincerely sorry for his reckless actions. It is encouraging to know that he is taking the initiative to learn more about Jewish history and culture,” the statement said. “It is our hope that he will continue to learn the importance of tolerance and respect for diversity. We will continue to rely on the judicial system and on the Chandler Police Department to follow the next steps in the process, she said.

The large, decorative Hanukkah candelabra damaged on Dec. 30, 2016, was made of gold spray-painted PVC pipes and solar-powered lights.

Ellis and her husband, Seth, said they built the 7-foot menorah in front of their house after their three sons, ages 5, 6 and 9, asked for lights in their yard like their neighbors’ Christmas decorations.

Police helped the couple dismantle the swastika early in the morning before their children saw it. The menorah was rebuilt and replaced.

About 100 members of the family’s synagogue and their rabbi and neighbors gathered in the Ellis front yard to light the rebuilt menorah.