SAN FRANCISCO—A 6-foot tall menorah was stolen from Washington Square Park in San Francisco over the Christmas weekend. It was last seen on Friday, December 23 by Rabbi Peretz of the North Beach Chabad.
According to their website, the North Beach Chabad is a community outreach that serves as “a center for the discovery of Jewish life and education.” They have sections all over the world, from Washington D.C. to Nigeria.
The menorah, weighing about 150 pounds, was installed in Washington Square Park in North Beach on December 12. Its disappearance was discovered by members of the North Beach Chabad prior to the first candle lighting for Hannukkah on Sunday, December 25.
“It was devastating. It was really devastating,” Miryum Mochkin, co-director of the North Beach Chabad and wife to the Chabad’s Rabbi Peretz Mochkin told the San Francisco News.
The Chabad was in the midst of their annual Festival of Light festivities—which includes indoor crafts, treats, and children’s activities—when members noticed the menorah was missing before its lighting, scheduled for 4:00 p.m., Mochkin said.
The North Beach Chabad filed a police report on Monday, December 26 and are awaiting surveillance footage from neighboring businesses and residencies. At this time no arrests have been made.
This was not the first time the Chabad had been targeted, Mochkin said. Similar incidents last year prompted city officials to hire an undercover cop to patrol the area surrounding the menorah.
The North Beach Neighbors (NBN)–a non-profit organization that serves residents, civic leaders, and local businesses by addressing neighborhood concerns, also helps the community’s religious groups with the organization of festivals throughout December and is standing in solidarity with the Chabad, Mochkin said.
To raise spirits in light of the incident, the Chabad will be hosting a celebration on Monday, December 26, in Washington Square Park at 6 p.m., where they are encouraged to bring their own menorahs to light. The Chabad will be providing menorahs as well.
“Anti-semitism and hate crimes can not be allowed,” Mochkin said. “They have to be stopped at their source and we have to get to the bottom of this. And simultaneously to continue the holiday.”