Menorah vandalized in Hollis Hill

In the early evening of Saturday, November 27, a large menorah at the intersection of Union Turnpike and 220th Street in Hollis Hills was knocked into the road, breaking most of its lights.
The incident was reported to the NYPD by Rabbi Zalmanov, co-director of the Chabad of Eastern Queens.
In response, local leaders and elected officials denounced the act of vandalism, leading up to the rededication of a new menorah just steps from where the original one was damaged. Governor Kathy Hochul also instructed the state Hate Crimes Task Force to investigate the incident.
Assemblyman David Weprin said a similar act occurred at the site in 2014.
“Chanukah is a time of peace and joy,” said Weprin. “No acts of vandalism or anti-Semitism will ever be tolerated. We are watching, the hard-working members of law enforcement are watching, and this community, where we always have each other’s backs, is watching.”
Weprin was joined by State Senator John Liu, who noted that just a few weeks prior there was an unrelated act of anti-Semitism at Bagels & Co. in Fresh Meadows.
“That this vandalism occurred as New Yorkers celebrated the first night of Hanukkah stings all the more, but our community will never waiver in our determination to fight back against hatred and division in any form,” said Liu.
According to the FBI’s 2020 statistics, crimes targeting Jewish people made up nearly 55 percent of all religious bias crimes last year. More than half of hate incidents targeting Jews involved the destruction, damage, or vandalism of property, with a third of incidents being instances of intimidation.
Congresswoman Grace Meng co-chairs the House Antisemitism Task Force.
“There is no place anywhere in our society for anti-Semitism and hate, particularly here in Queens, where we welcome and embrace the great diversity throughout our borough,” she said. “Those responsible must be held accountable.”
Roughly a week after the incident, elected officials joined together for a rededication of a new menorah.

Statue vandalized at St. Michael’s in Flushing

At approximately 3:30 a.m. last Wednesday morning, a man vandalized a statue of St. Bernadette outside St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church at 136-76 41st Avenue in Flushing. The attack is the latest in a string of incidents at churches in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
The statue of St. Bernadette was dedicated earlier this summer as a memorial to parishioners who died from coronavirus. St. Bernadette is the patron saint of the poor, those ridiculed for their faith, and the sick.
Wednesday’s perpetrator jumped over the church fence and knocked the statue over, damaging portions near the left forearm and wrist.
While St. Michael’s is already planning to repair the statue, parish leaders are hoping to use the incident as an opportunity to strengthen the community.
“St. Michael’s plays a central role in the faith and care of our neighbors through our masses and faith-based services that feed the hungry,” said Father Vincentius Do, pastor of St. Michael’s Church. “For sure this act of vandalism is upsetting, but the faithful of St. Michael’s and I are praying for the person who committed this act against our church.
“It is important to find the good in all things, and so I wish to take this opportunity to encourage the public to respect our church and our property, as well as that of all houses of worship,” he added.
Authorities from the 109th Precinct are currently investigating the incident. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477).
The St. Bernadette is the latest in series of vandalism incidents at churches in Queens and Brooklyn.
In July, a person damaged two statues outside of Our Lady of Mercy Roman Catholic Church at 70-01 Kissel Street in Forest Hills. The two statues had been in place since the church’s opening in 1937.
The vandal dragged the statues close to 200 feet across 70th Avenue before destroying them completely with a hammer.
In May, two separate incidents occurred at churches in Brooklyn. On May 14, a crucifix was toppled and damaged and an American flag lit on fire at St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church in Bensonhurst.
On May 17, a statue of Mary holding the Baby Jesus was found vandalized near the Diocese’s administrative office in Windsor Terrace.

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