Two unknown suspects broke a 12-foot-tall menorah in front of the Chabad House on Montezuma Road around midnight on Oct. 22.
One student who lives in the Chabad House dorm witnessed the vandalism, Rabbi Chalom Boudjnah said.
“He basically heard a big noise, like a metal noise, came out, and he saw a few guys (who) looked like college students,” Rabbi Chalom said. “They were basically pulling on one of the branches of the menorah, and then it broke.”
The student attempted to confront the two men, but they took off running. Two girls were walking by during the incident, but they were gone after the student returned from chasing the two men, the Rabbi said.
The Chabad House is a local hub for Jewish students on Montezuma Road. The menorah that sits in front of the Chabad House is a metal structure over 12 feet tall.
On Oct. 23, over 200 students and their families attended a traditional Jewish dinner at the house.
“It’s where they gather to celebrate Judaism,” Rabbi Chalom said. “We’re not going to have the menorah because we took it down to bring it to a welder, and it’s kind of a sad situation.”
Rabbi Chalom is unsure whether the incident was racially motivated.
“We’re really concerned because what’s happening in Israel right now is concerning,” he said. “The menorah is a symbol of Judaism, a symbol of light and freedom, spreading good vibes in a way, and this is the complete opposite.”
On Oct. 7, a campus-wide email from President Hirshman alerted students about symbols and words of bigotry graffitied on campus, which had been immediately removed. A member of the Chabad House reported the incident and submitted a photo to the university.
The photo submitted by the student was the same graffiti referenced in President Hirshman’s email, SDSU Police Captain Joshua Mays said. There is no clear connection between the Chabad House vandalism and the graffiti.
Business administration junior and Alpha Epsilon Pi Vice President of Communications Stephen Weinberg visits the Chabad House almost every week.
“Whether it’s for socializing or for religious events, it’s a place where everyone should feel safe,” he said.
Weinberg believes if the vandalism was racially motivated, there would have been more damage.
“It honestly could’ve been someone got drunk and tried to steal it or something, which isn’t OK either,” he said. “This isn’t something where I’m like, ‘Wow, this makes me unsafe as a Jewish student.’ If more things start happening then I’ll change my mind, for now it’s more like someone was being an idiot.”
The Chabad House and the President’s office are scheduled to meet some time next week to discuss the anti-Semitic graffiti.
“It’s just to discuss what we should do in general to teach people about doing less hatred and more love,” Rabbi Chalom said.
The last time the Chabad House experienced vandalism was four years ago, when someone threw a baseball bat with an anti-Semitic phrase through a window, Rabbi Chalom said.