Detectives are investigating the vandalism of two public menorahs in Sunset Park as hate crimes, according to the NYPD.
The first menorah was targeted at around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5, police said. Officers were called to the scene at 770 5th Avenue after an unknown individual damaged an outdoor menorah. Surveillance camera footage of the incident shows a masked individual pushing over the menorah before fleeing the scene ofna bicycle.
In a separate incident on Thursday, Dec. 7 — the first night of Hanukkah — a menorah was vandalized at 44th Street and 6th Avenue, just inside nabe’s namesake park. According to News12 Brooklyn, the menorah was taken from its spot inside the park and was found broken on the ground nearby. Both menorahs were sponsored by Chabad Sunset Park.
According to authorities, investigations into both incidents are ongoing, and no arrests have been made as of Dec. 11.
The antisemitic vandalism came amid a surge in hate crimes across New York City over the past couple of months, spurred by the conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Last month, the city saw 62 felonies targeting victims due to their Jewish faith — marking an increase of 32% from the 47 such incidents in November of 2022, per the latest NYPD data.
Similarly, the Hate Crime Task Force investigated seven crimes targeting Muslims last month, after not recording zero incidents in November of 2022.
Chabad Sunset Park — also known as Jewish Sunset Park — a “spiritual startup” aiming to help non-practicing Jews in the neighborhood and Greenwood Heights find their faith, sponsored the placement of the menorahs ahead of the start of Hanukkah.
The leader of the organization, Rabbi Yanky Hecht, started a fundraiser to replace the damaged menorahs, saying it is crucial to respond to the antisemitic acts with hope and resilience.
“Initially, when we heard the news, it was heartbreaking. But the Jewish people are stronger now than ever before and these people who are responsible for these acts of hatred are fools, as they do not realize that the Jewish spirit grows from darkness,” Hecht told Brooklyn Paper.
So far, the fundraiser has received $408 in donations. Hecht hopes to raise $3,500 in total.
Hecht said the Jewish community in Sunset Park and Greenwood Heights are gathering this Thursday, Dec. 14, on the last night of Hanukkah, for the unveiling of a menorah made of ice at Industry City as a show of “resilience, strength and pride.”
“We have to light menorahs and we have to be menorahs,” Hecht said of the recent rise in anti semitic attacks and acts of vandalism. “We have to be shining lights. That is the way that we are going to dispel this darkness.”