Three menorah displays were vandalized in Richmond, Va., during the last few nights of Chanukah.
A menorah on private property supported by Chabad-Lubavitch in Richmond was destroyed Thursday night. Its lights were broken and the entire structure tipped over.
On Saturday night, two more menorahs, one at the Jewish Community Center in Richmond – erected in conjunction with Chabad-Lubavitch – and one at Knesset Beth Israel, an Orthodox synagogue, also were vandalized.
Each was about eight feet tall and the electric lights on them had been smashed.
In addition, windows at Knesset Beth Israel were smashed.
Due to the proximity of the menorah incidents, police are speculating that they are related. “We’re guessing the same person committed all three offenses,” Investigators will try to take fingerprints.
Russell said a bottle was found inside the synagogue and that police investigators will try to take fingerprints.
Russell said he had “talked to people” but there were no leads so far.
The Jewish Community Federation of Richmond deplored the vandalism. “As Jews observed their holiday commemorating religious freedom, that very freedom was attacked by the anti-Semitic desecration” of the menorahs, the federation said in a statement.
In an interview, David Nussbaum, executive director of the federation, called the incidents an “aberration,” saying these were not typical of the Jewish experience in the Richmond area. “It’s nor something we would expect,” he said.
Police, Nussbaum said, are making a “concerted effort” to find the vandals. “They’re not treating it lightly.”
Richmond Mayor Leonidas Young said the “Richmond Police Department is not assuming that the vandalism was a simple prank. It was an act of vandalism that represents racism and anti-Jewish sentiment. We are looking at it from that aspect and following any and all leads.”
Judging from the location of the menorahs, Young said it was a “planned and designed act,” and that there has to be “some connection” between the three incidents.
Young met with Jewish leaders in Richmond on Sunday to assure them that everything possible would be done to find the individuals who vandalized the menorahs.
According to Young, Virginia does not have a statute that would address hate crimes specifically. Instead, he said, if it is determined to be a hate crime, “the federal penalty is quite severe.”
The Anti-Defamation League has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.