Campus Jewish Symbol Vandalized Again
University of Illinois police are searching for the person who knocked down a the giant decorative menorah outside of a Jewish cultural center on campus. As Hannah Meisel reports, it's the second time the menorah's been damaged this year.
The 9-foot-tall menorah outside of Illini Chabad was snapped at its base around 6 a.m. on Wednesday.
Illini Chabad's executive director, Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel, says he's disappointed the menorah has been vandalized again. But, he says, he sees an opportunity to educate others about tolerance.
"We know the challenge," he said. "The challenge is clear, as bright as day: People are a lot less tolerant of each other. Someone who could take something of someone else's faith, or a symbol of pride of light, it's a problem. It shows there's something wrong there. So the challenge is clear. The question is what are we going to do about it?"
Tiechtel says he sees more hate on college campuses than he has before, but he says educating students will be key to stopping future hate crimes.
"College is not just about getting your degree, it's about learning to be a member of society," he said.
The suspect was caught on clear video, unlike when the monument was first vandalized back in April. Since that first incident, Chabad has raised over $7,000 dollars for a new Menorah. The current menorah had been anonymously fixed in April and now another community member has volunteered to fix the menorah until the new one is installed around Hanukkah-time.
Tiechtel says he's not sure whether Chabad will press charges and is taking things "one step at a time."
State officials, including Treasurer Mike Frerichs of Champaign, voiced their frustration with the repeat vandalism on social media. The U of I has not made an official statement.
U of I Police encourage those with information about the crime to call 217-333-1216. Witnesses may remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 373-TIPS (8477), or by visiting www.373tips.com.