UI student charged with felony in menorah damage

Rivera was arrested on the charge of criminal damage to property on Feb. 8 for damaging an arm of the Menorah outside of the Illini Chabad Center for Jewish Life, located just off campus at 509 S. 4th Stss.

Fernandez-Rivera, a member of the Illinois softball team, told investigators she didn’t intend to break the arm of the Menorah and offered to apologize to the center’s Rabbi personally.

Following the incident, the University Division of Intercollegiate addressed the issue in a press release from interim athletic director Paul Kowalcyzk sson Tuesday afternoon.

“We are disappointed by the actions early Sunday morning of two student-athletes from softball and men’s gymnastics at the Chabad Jewish Center on campus and apologize for this unacceptable behavior,” Kowalczyk said. “Both student-athletes have sent letters of apology to the Center. Ruby Fernandez-Rivera, who was given a state notice to appear in court, has been suspended indefinitely from competition with the softball team.

Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel sssaid there are two costs from the incident, “the financial cost and the emotional cost.”

“The financial cost being assessing how much this will cost, this menorah was just put up. The emotional cost being the pain for students and alumni across campus who had their security violated,” Tiechtel said. “In the four years students spend here learning about other cultures and understanding each other it just hurts that they would do this to someone’s property.”

Tiechtel said this incident isn’t just “about the menorah, it’s not just about breaking the branch, it’s about an attack on a community.”

At the start of the school year, a 20-year-old Parkland College student was charged with a Class 4 felony for damaging the menorah. The offender, Max Kristy, was caught on a Chabad surveillance camera attempting to knock the menorah over.

Kristy broke the menorah at its base, causing almost $3,000 in damage. Kirsty arrested following an anonymous tip and the initiation of a UIPD investigation. He was issued a state of Illinois notice to appear.

Kristy will reappear in court on Thursday.

Following damages caused by a similar act of vandalism that took place in April, Illini Chabad has created an Illini Menorah Rededication Fund. The menorah was rededicated on Dec. 7.

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