by ERIN ROLL
Authorities are looking into reports that an ice sculpture of a menorah on Church Street, which was set up for a special community event to mark the first night of Hanukkah, may have been vandalized earlier this week.
Montclair Police received an anonymous phone call Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 24, reporting that an unsupervised juvenile, approximately between the ages of 10 and 12, was seen pushing the menorah and toppling it before fleeing the scene, MPD deputy chief Wil Young told Montclair Local.
An investigation into the incident is ongoing, Young said, and it is being looked at as a possible bias incident. The MPD had not made a final determination as of late Friday afternoon, Dec. 27.
Christa Rapoport of the Montclair Civil Rights Commission said it was a possibility that the incident may simply have been an unsupervised child playing around near the menorah. However, she said, given recent events such as a shooting in Jersey City on Dec. 10, which authorities believe to be motivated by anti-Semitism, it was wise to be cautious about incidents such as the menorah damage.
The pedestal of the ice menorah remained up until Friday afternoon, when it was removed. Prior to its removal, the sculpture was covered over by a plastic sheet, but the top portion of the menorah was gone, with chunks of the ice sculpture lying nearby.
Rabbi Yaacov Leaf of Chabad of Montclair, which organized the Dec. 22 event in which the menorah was dedicated, wrote in a Facebook post that the MPD had contacted him to make him aware of the report.
“While I don’t know the motive behind this destructive act, I can’t help but think the possibility of this being a bias incident. I sure hope not,” Leaf said in the post. “At any rate let’s light those menorahs and let our lights shine bright! I want to thank the MPD for their attention to this matter,” Leaf wrote.
Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to contact the Montclair Police Department at 973-744-1234 and ask for the on-call detective.