Iconic ‘Mitzvah Bus’ In Brooklyn Goes Up In Flames

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — An iconic bus in Brooklyn recently went up in flames, and police don’t think it was an accident.

As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, locals aren’t letting the act of vandalism shake their faith.

The song has become an anthem of Jewish pride, with a music video that’s tallied two and a half million views on YouTube. It all centers around the vibrant MItzvah Bus of Brooklyn, created by local artist Lev Schieber.

It was intended to spread joy around the Jewish community.

“The Jewish symbols are very bright, modern, can catch the eye of kids,” Schieber said.

“It gives them an extra boost to be proud to be Jewish,” singer Benny Friedman said.

But today its colors are dimmed, its rainbows are shattered, and its skeleton is melted after police say the bus was intentionally set on fire around midnight Monday on Troy Avenue near Maple Street where it’s parked every night.

One witness didn’t want to show his face, but says he smelled the smoke and called 911.

“The fire was going three, four feet above the truck by the time the fire department came it was pretty intense and quick,” he said.

Now, police are investigating the act as a potential hate crime.

“It’s a crime against everyone and all humanity and the entire community,” Schieber said.

The bus wasn’t just an icon of the local Jewish community; Schieber used it as his art studio and to drive his daughters to school.

His daughter Mila said she’s proud they had the bus for so many years.

Even at its worst, the Mitzvah Bus continues to be the symbol it’s always been.

“It’s certainly tough to swallow,” Friedman. “It’s very, very difficult. But it just reiterates the message. When you do something positive there’s gonna be pushback.”

The bus is waiting to be towed, but the artist is already thinking up ideas for its replacement.

Police are reviewing surveillance from the area.

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