A community sukkah in Manhattan was vandalized over the weekend, with the words “Free Gaza” graffitied three times on the structure.
The sukkah was set up at Carl Schurz Park in New York’s Upper East Side for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The incident occurred on Sunday, a day before Simhat Torah, the holiday that marks the end of the annual cycle of Torah reading.
Police launched a hate crime investigation into the incident, according to WABC-TV. “Free Gaza” is considered an anti-Israel slogan
Rabbi Ben Krasnianski, director of Chabad of the UES, told the news channel: “It’s a slap in the face. I mean, the Jewish community is celebrating, it’s really very vicious. There is no room for this hatred in New York City.”
The Anti-Defamation League tweeted that it was “appalled by [the] images of a vandalized Sukkah in Carl Schurz Park in #NYC this morning. Targeting a premises [sic] used for religious purposes during the #Jewish holiday of Sukkot is simply beyond the pale.”
Appalled by images of a vandalized Sukkah in Carl Schurz Park in #NYC this morning. Targeting a premises used for religious purposes during the #Jewish holiday of Sukkot is simply beyond the pale. Thankful to @NYPDnews for swiftly being on the scene & investigating. pic.twitter.com/w9V3ROF9vB
— ADL New York / New Jersey (@ADL_NYNJ) September 30, 2018
The vandalism was reported on Sunday morning, and by the afternoon, messages such as “Shalom” and “Sukkah of Unity” appeared on the sukkah. An event dubbed the “Demonstration of Jewish Pride” is planned for later Monday outside the Chabad House on East 77th Street.
“The only response we know, and the way we’ve responded for the last 3,800 years is to respond to darkness with light, to hate with love and to negativity with positivity,” Krasnianski told the New York Post.