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Police Investigate Menorah Vandalism Incident

By Jorge Casuso

December 18, 2023 -- Santa Monica police are investigating the vandalism of an eight-foot-tall menorah on Montana Avenue last Thursday afternoon amid a rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes nationwide.

The vandalism -- reported at around 2 p.m. -- resulted in "thousands of dollars in damage" to the steel and glass menorah installed at 15th Street, according to police.

The "unknown assailant" is described as a male wearing a black hoodie with white lettering on the back and black pants, police said.

"He grabbed onto an outer arm of the menorah and pulled down, causing it to tip over and break," said a post on the Department's Facebook page.

The suspect "then fled eastbound on Montana and out of sight."

Police detectives investigating the incident are "seeking surveillance footage and witnesses who might have seen any suspicious activity in the area," according to the post.

The incident took place one day after a large menorah in Oakland, California, was vandalized in what police are investigating as a hate crime.

According to AP, police said the vandalism took place by Lake Merritt shortly before 1:30 a.m.

"Images showed only remnants of the tall menorah, with pieces scattered on a path around the lake and in the water," AP reported. "Hate speech was sprayed on nearby concrete."

"A steady stream of vehicles bearing smaller menorahs traveled Wednesday night to the site of the desecration, where a large new menorah was lit," AP wrote.

Anti-Semitic hate crimes have surged nationwide after Hamas launched a terrorist massacre in Israel on October 7, prompting numerous anti-Jewish rallies on U.S. college campuses, as well as individual attacks against Jews.

According to a recent report from the FBI, Jews were the most frequent targets of religion-based hate crimes in the U.S. last year, with 1,305 offenses committed against them, followed by Muslims with 205 offenses committed against them.

Santa Monica police have been on heightened alert this holiday season, with "extra officers providing high visibility patrols of all our religious institutions," police officials said.

"This malicious destruction is a reminder that in this season of holidays and festivities we all need to watch out for the health and welfare of our community."

Jews celebrate Hanukkah -- which commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over the Greek army 2,200 years ago -- for eight days, lighting one of the menorah's candles each night.

This year, Hanukkah began Thursday, December 7 at sunset and ended Friday, December 15 at nightfall.

Anyone with information about Thursday's incident should call the Santa Monica Police Department at 310-458-8491.

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