Memorial to Lubavitcher rebbe damaged

KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — Unidentified vandals damaged a monument erected in southern Ukraine in honor of the late Lubavitcher rebbe.

The attack occurred overnight Wednesday in Nikolayev, the birthplace of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Lubavitcher rebbe, who died in 1994.  

Jewish officials said the vandals damaged the monument — a black granite open book — likely using a hammer, and pasted two provocative xenophobic leaflets on the memorial.

Law enforcement agencies are investigating but no arrests have been reported.

“We are not sure who did it," Rabbi Shlomo Gottlib, chief rabbi of Nikolayev and the surrounding region, told JTA. "Probably this crisis is a result of the anti-Semitic atmosphere in the city. We are working closely with local authorities who are loyal to us. Meanwhile, probably some forces directed those vandals against ethnic minorities. We believe that local law enforcement agencies will investigate the case and punish the guilty parties.”

The monument was erected last August on the corner of Moskovskaya and Dunayeva streets, not far from where Schneerson was born. It was built on the initiative of the Nikolayev Jewish community with a donation from the Shaul family of Los Angeles and support of the local mayor.

Nikolayev, with a population of 500,000, is home to an estimated 7,000 Jews.

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