NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A religious structure, part of a major Jewish holiday, was vandalized in Manhattan. It happened in Carl Schurz Park, right near Gracie Mansion.
Now the NYPD is trying to find out who is responsible, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported.
Sunday night marked the last night of Sukkot, a joyful holiday that kicks off the start of the Jewish new year. Thousands on the Upper East Side have come to the temporary place of worship, called a “Sukkah,” to celebrate throughout the week. As CBS2’s Rozner observed, there are now messages of unity on it, painted over what hours earlier were messages of hate.
On Sunday morning, the words “Free Gaza” were spray-painted in three different places on the public Sukkah.
“We built it last Sunday and we’re pretty horrified,” said Rabbi Ben Krasnianski of Chabad of the Upper East Side.
The rabbi said it was built for the 70,000 Jews who live on the Upper East Side, but he received calls of outrage from people of all faiths.
“It’s sad. It’s scary. It’s disgraceful. It’s everything that you can think of and it’s in your own backyard,” one person told Rozner.
“It’s anti-Jew and I’m Jewish and even if I’m not, that’s terrible,” added resident Mahrok Eshagian.
Even Bernstein, the director of the Anti-Defamation League for New York, said, “When something like that is vandalized, as it would be a synagogue or a Jewish cemetery, something that’s overtly Jewish in that way has been vandalized, we feel it’s anti-Semitic.”
On Sunday afternoon, the community painted over the vandalism in black and wrote new messages of peace.
“We’ve been around 3,800 years. We’ve outlived all our enemies. It’s very hard to intimidate the Jewish people. It only strengthens us. It only makes us more determined,” Rabbi Krasnianski said.
The NYPD said there are no suspects yet. Mayor Bill de Blasio also took to Twiter to denounce the vandalism.