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Car Crashes Into Hanukkah Party In New York, Injuring 14

December 25, 2008 07:58 PM EST | AP

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WOODMERE, N.Y. — A car slammed into a building where Orthodox Jewish families were celebrating Hanukkah on Thursday, injuring 14 people, police said.

Police said the injured ranged in age from 1 1/2 to 40, and four were hospitalized in serious condition. At least six of the injured were young children, hospital officials said.

The families from the Chabad Orthodox Jewish movement were celebrating Chanukah Wonderland, an all-day celebration with events geared for children, including a crafts corner and a Chanukah theater. Thursday was the fifth day of the eight-day Jewish festival of lights.

About 150 people were inside the building when a 78-year-old man lost control of his car and plowed through a plateglass window, Nassau County police said.

"He makes an abrupt left turn. It actually forces the car that's parked along the side of the road up onto the sidewalk," Nassau County police Lt. Kevin Smith said. "His car careens through several plateglass windows, enters the building and comes to rest after basically running over ... several people."

No charges had been filed against the driver Thursday evening, police said.

The Chanukah Wonderland event was sponsored by Chabad of the Five Towns, representing the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community on Long Island, and held in Woodmere, about 25 miles southeast of Manhattan. The community's Web site said the event would feature a Hanukkah theater and the building of menorahs and four-sided tops called dreidels out of Lego toys.

"We are doing whatever we possibly can for the families of these children during this most difficult of times and urge all people of good will to keep them in their prayers," Rabbi Zalman Wolowik, director of the Chabad of the Five Towns, said in a statement posted on the Web site.

Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greek empire in 165 B.C. Led by the Maccabees, the Jews drove the Greeks from Jerusalem and reclaimed the temple for religious services.

(This version CORRECTS driver's age to 78, not 76.))

Filed by Nick Sabloff  |  Report Corrections