An Upper East Side Jewish center’s beautiful ice-carved menorah stationed at the corner of East 93rd Street and Second Avenue was smashed Tuesday night, the second attack targeting the Chabad Israel Center’s observances during back-to-back Jewish holidays.
The menorah, which was carved from a block of ice on Sunday night during the Chabad Israel Center’s Hanukkah block party celebration on East 93d Street. Neighbors filled the streets as the Festival of Lights began on the Upper East Side, with the FDNY using its ladder truck to drop gelt — chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil — from the air.
Rabbi Uriel Vigler, who leads the center, tells Upper East Site that on Wednesday night around 10:00 pm he spotted the ice menorah smashed into pieces with chunks of ice sprawled across the sidewalk and even in the street.
Based on how the ice sculpture is broken in multiple directions, it appears unlikely that it was accidentally struck by a vehicle. Unfortunately, Upper East Site found no visible surveillance cameras on the MTA’s Second Avenue Subway mechanical building located at the corner of East 93rd Street and Second Avenue.
“The message of Chanukah is that a little light will always dispel the darkness,” Rabbi Vigler told Upper East Site on Thursday morning.
“The only way of countering acts of hatred is with more acts of love and kindness.”
This is the second time the Chabad Israel Center, located at the corner of East 92nd Street and Second Avenue, has been targeted by vandals in just over two months, with both acts of destruction coming during the observance of Jewish holidays.
It was early in the morning of October 8th, when police say a suspect was caught on the center’s surveillance cameras smashing their sukkah — a hut used for dining during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot — and even urinating inside the structure.
The NYPD announced on Friday that a FDNY firefighter was charged with criminal mischief in that incident, which was deemed by investigators not to be racially motivated.
“This is so messed up,” said Brooke O’Brien after seeing the vandalism.
“We don’t see this kind of thing with Christmas trees being messed with like that,” the Upper East Side resident noted.
Hate crimes have surged on the Upper East this year. NYPD data shows the number of bias incidents reported to police has doubled, from 15 hate crimes at this point last year to 30 this year.
At 5:00 pm on Thursday, Rabbi Viggler a bigger and brighter menorah outside the Chabad Israel Center.
“While families gathered together and celebrated the miracles of Hanukkah, cowards gathered to perpetrate hate fueled vandalism against our community,” said New York State Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright.
“We must condemn these actions in one unified voice and make it clear that hate has no place in New York.”
This article has been updated to reflect the arrest of a firefighter in connection with the vandalism of the center’s sukkah in October.