Ice menorah smashed in second holiday attack at Upper East Side Chabad

The shattered menorah, stationed at the corner of East 93rd Street and 2nd Avenue, follows another antisemitic vandalism which occurred at the same center in October during the Sukkot holiday. 

 Upper East Side, NYC (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Upper East Side, NYC
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

NEW YORK – Upper East Side (UES) Chabad Israel Center’s ice-carved menorah was smashed Wednesday night in an apparent anti-Jewish attack. 

The shattered menorah, stationed at the corner of East 93rd Street and 2nd Avenue, follows another antisemitic vandalism which occurred at the same center in October during the Sukkot holiday. 

Rabbi Uriel Vigler, who heads the Chabad Israel Center on the UES, the commissioners of the ice menorah, called Wednesday's act, which occurred on the fourth night of Hanukkah, "malicious and intentional."

"The ice was smashed from both sides," he said. "Also on Sukkot we faced this kind hate when our [sukkah] was vandalized. On Hanukkah Jews light the menorah purposely at night time in order to spread light, because just of bit of light dispels the darkness. 

"The forces of hatred will never be victorious."

Rabbi Vigler

"The forces of hatred will never be victorious," Vigler continued. "Even though we no longer have this ice menorah we still plan to light the 5th night tonight and pray that light will win over darkness like it alway has for the Jewish people."

Yoav Davis, founder of the Instagram account @Jews_of_NY, which boasts more than 80K followers, condemned the act. “The amount of antisemitic hate crimes we get alerted about from our followers in New York really is heartbreaking," he told The Jerusalem Post. "On the subways in the streets and now also towards Jewish monuments it’s just never been [this] bad here. We need our allies and our elected representatives to speak up and do a lot more." 

Hanukkah continues to light up New York City 

Hanukkah celebrations and public menorah lightings are continuing to light up New York despite the incident on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the fifth night of the Jewish festival of lights, the Jewish community is set to honor the New York Police Department (NYPD)'s efforts in confronting antisemitism and acts of hatred throughout the city  by lighting the world's largest menorah together. 

The lighting will take place on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street in Midtown Manhattan. Notable NYPD officials will be in attendance including First Deputy Police Commissioner Edward Caban and recently-appointed Chief of Department Jeffrey Maddrey, Inspector Richie Taylor and Joel Eisdorfer, senior advisor to Mayor Eric Adams. 

Every Hanukkah, the 36-foot menorah —certified by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest—set up by Chabad, sits at Grand Army Plazanear Central Park, just outside the Plaza Hotel. Since its inception, a number of notable luminaries and dignitaries have had the honor of lighting the candles of the towering symbol of the Jewish festival of lights, including several New York mayors, governors, senators and more.

The annual New York City tradition is part of the worldwide Hanukkah campaign, an initiative launched in 1973 by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. The campaign focuses on creating awareness and promoting observance of the holiday. A menorah lighting has taken place at the location at Grand Army Plaza since 1977.

Rabbi Shmuel Butman, director of Lubavitch Youth Organization, which organized the event, said: “The fifth night, when the majority of candles are lit on the menorah for the first time, symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness. How apropos that on this night, we honor the brave men and women who are at the forefront of combating darkness in our city and protecting the liberties that we so cherish.”

125% increase in NYC antisemitic hate crimes in November  

Antisemitic hate crimes across New York City's five boroughs more than doubled last month from a year ago, NYPD data revealed. The concerning rise unfolded against a backdrop of high-profile figures making headlines for remarks targeting Jews. 

There were 45 hate crimes motivated by antisemitism in November versus 20 in November 2021, according to the NYPD data. 

Earlier this month, federal, state and city leaders spoke about the surge of antisemitism, at a forum hosted by the Orthodox Union in Manhattan. During the meeting, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the initiation of a new statewide task force to combat antisemitism.

The event at Lincoln Square Synagogue on the Upper West Side focused on combating hate and enhancing security in Jewish communities.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer spoke, along with US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Adams, a former New York Police Department captain, said, “I did not spend 22 years of my life as a member of the NYPD protecting the people of this city to surrender to those who believe hate is going to have a foothold in this city. It will not happen.

“Antisemitism is not a Jewish issue, it’s a human issue,” Adams continued. “I get it. You’re watching your loved ones being attacked merely because of their religious beliefs. I get it that you’re watching across the globe the rise of antisemitism and the 125% increase in antisemitism in this city. I get it that swastikas are becoming so common. I get it that as you attempt to have a normal way of life, some people are afraid to put on a yarmulke.”