A Chandler, Arizona family celebrating Hanukkah by erecting a 7-foot-tall menorah made of PVC pipe painted gold on their front lawn got a shock on Friday morning; someone had broken apart the menorah and restructured it as a giant swastika.

When Naomi and Seth Ellis, who had spent $100 for PVC pipe, nine solar-powered lights and gold paint, awakened Friday morning to see the swastika. Naomi Ellis said she had to explain to her three young sons, ages 9, 7, and 5, why someone had committed the act of hate: “We talk a lot about the importance of equality and tolerance, loving everybody no matter what. I had to tell them that not everybody feels that way. Some people are ignorant, and this is what they do.”

She said her 9-year-old son was in tears; adding, “They know about the Holocaust. They know about Nazis,” but she also said they had never seen a swastika before. She continued, “This is the real reality that we live in: People hate us for no reason or want us to feel scared for who we are. That’s not something I wanted to have to tell them.”

As The Washington Post reported, “Seth Ellis, who works in construction, got up Friday morning at 4 a.m. as usual, and saw that while the family was sleeping, the menorah’s joints had been unscrewed and locked back in place in the spidery directions of a swastika. The vandal or vandals had taken some of the pieces entirely. The Ellises called the police.”

“This is the real reality that we live in: People hate us for no reason or want us to feel scared for who we are."

Naomi Ellis

Naomi Ellis wrote on Facebook, "We never would have imagined that someone would spread so much hate here. However, this morning we were greeted with this horrible act of aggression. To think that someone would make such an effort to hurt and vandalize a family, is downright sickening." She said Seth will rebuild the menorah; her rabbi said the community could come to her home to ceremonially relight the rebuilt menorah.