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SALT LAKE CITY — A menorah was vandalized in front of a Jewish center early Sunday morning.
Around 1 a.m., police were notified that the 6-foot menorah that is on display outside the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah at 1760 S 1100 East had been vandalized.
Three arms had been ripped off the left side, including the wiring that enables the menorah to be lit during Chanukah, according to Rabbi Benny Zippel, executive director of the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah.
The Chabad Lubavitch of Utah is the Utah branch of the world's largest Jewish outreach organization with approximately 4,000 centers world wide.
"It's a place that's designated to educate Jews, especially the unaffiliated, to develop a further education and appreciation for Judaism," Zippel said.
The center has been at their current location since 2005. Zippel said the menorah has been on display every year, but this is the first time it has been vandalized.
"The best understanding of the situation is that there were just a bunch of thugs that were walking by the area who I guess had nothing better to do than vandalizing this," Zippel said. "I don't think this was premeditated or that there is any deeper meaning to it other than just some random people looking for some thrill in life."
Zippel said that the center's philosophy is to face adversity and bigotry with increased joy and celebration, looking more to the positive than the negative.
"We are all very committed that we will not let this occurrence disturb our Chanukah celebration in any way shape or form," Zippel said.
But if police catch the vandals, Zippel said he plans on pressing charges.
"I find it deplorable that acts like this take place, specifically during a holiday that celebrates religious freedom in our country," he said. "But the main thing that I want to emphasize is the message of overcoming darkness, dispelling darkness by adding some more light. I don't like to focus on the negative aspect of the experience, but rather on the positive, on the need to further educate people, enhance awareness and mutual respect and tolerance among people as an outcome of this experience."
The members of Chabad Lubavitch plans to continue their Chanukah celebrations with even greater spirit and fervor today. A plan was already in place for Chanukah On Ice at the Gallivan Center, 239 South Main Street. The event will provide two hours of free ice skating from 3 to 5 p.m. for all members of Utah's Jewish Community, with live music by Desert Wind.
Contributing: Nkoyo Iyamba