U of Illinois student apologizes for vandalizing Chabad house menorah


(JTA) — A student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has apologized for vandalizing a menorah outside the campus Chabad house.

Ruby Rivera, a junior, took responsibility for the Feb. 7 incident in a letter to the News Gazette, the local newspaper reported Tuesday. She is scheduled to appear in court later this month to face a preliminary charge of criminal damage to property.

Rivera, a member of the university’s softball team, was identified and arrested a day after the vandalism.

“I would like to first deeply apologize for my actions that took place on the early morning of (Feb. 7),” Rivera wrote in the News Gazette letter. “There was at no point any disrespect or malice meant towards any community or religion, but I take full-on responsibility for my actions. The incident happened in correlation to a night out and is not meant as an excuse, but more of an explanation of my actions.”

Rivera acknowledged there are consequences for her actions and said she is willing to pay for the damages. She has been indefinitely suspended from the softball team and has not played in its first five games, the News Gazette reported.

Surveillance camera footage released after the incident by the University of Illinois Police Department  showed a man and a woman breaking an arm off the 9-foot menorah. The menorah was repaired and rededicated in December following the previous two incidents of vandalism.

In August, a 20-year-old resident of Champaign, Illinois, where the university is located, was arrested for snapping the menorah off at its base. Max Kristy was not a student at the university and told the News-Gazette that he was drunk at the time of the incident and planned to take the menorah as a gift to a Jewish friend. He was not charged with a hate crime.

The menorah was similarly vandalized in April.

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