The Daily Illini

Editorial: Illini Chabad Menorah vandalism disgraceful

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Editorial: Illini Chabad Menorah vandalism disgraceful

By The Daily Illini Editorial Board

UPDATE (1:39 p.m., Feb. 9): The University of Illinois Police Department issued Ruby Fernandez-Rivera a state of Illinois notice to appear in court for criminal damage to property. According to a report from the UIPD, Fernandez-Rivera told police she was attempting to unscrew a light bulb on the Menorah and didn’t intend to break the arm.

The UIPD said Fernandez-Rivera also offered to apologize to Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel of the Illini Chabad Center for Jewish Life.

For more on the developing news story, read The Daily Illini’s article on the crime.

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Early Sunday morning, two people vandalized the Menorah outside of the Illini Chabad Center for Jewish Life. In a surveillance video released by the University of Illinois Police Department, a man and woman are seen breaking off one arm of the Menorah around 1:15 a.m.

The Menorah has been vandalized three times since April — a series of repugnant acts that show our campus community is not nearly as inclusive as some might believe.

The two people have not yet been identified, but if the offenders are found to be University students, we will be ashamed and disappointed. The University is home to a large number of Jewish students and any actions taken against a publicly displayed symbol of Judaism are anti-semitic in nature regardless of intent.

No matter what the cause or thought process behind the vandalism was, be it intoxication, a poorly conceived prank or any other, the offenders violated the immense religious significance of the Menorah and disrespected the local Jewish community.

In August, 20-year-old Parkland College student Max Kristy was arrested for knocking over the previous Menorah, causing over $2,000 in damages to the base of the structure. And last April, the Menorah was heavily damaged just prior to National Israel Week. Nobody was convicted for the initial offense, but it did lead to the installation of two surveillance cameras; cameras that both helped convict Kristy and captured this weekend’s two offenders on video.

The Menorah will be fixed eventually, and those responsible will likely pay for their actions — but there is no compensation for the emotional cost of damage like this. Students and members of the community alike deserve to feel safe in believing whatever they choose, and acts like this call into question whether some of our University’s students are really as accepting as they might appear.

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