(December 7, 2021 / JNS) Police in Kansas City, Mo., continue to search for the vandal or vandals responsible for destroying a Chabad center in the city.
Chabad on the Plaza was vandalized last week with electrical wires damaged, water lines broken, and items torn and strewn everywhere. The ark was found open, though the Torah was still inside. The space was deemed completely unusable.
According to the Kansas City Police Department, on Nov. 30 at around 1:15 a.m., a caller reported a prowler around the building. The caller told police that he had seen an “unknown suspicious black SUV parked near the dispatched location and heard glass break in the immediate area.” The caller then saw the vehicle leave.
“Upon arrival, we observed a broken glass window on the north side of the building and shattered glass on the ground in the immediate area,” said a police spokesperson. They tried to call someone to check the building, but had “negative results” and did not know if anyone had “made entry” into the building.
While conducting a canvass of the area, police observed a black SUV driving in the area and attempted to conduct a “car check,” but the SUV sped away. “This is an active investigation, and I do not have any updates at this time,” the spokesperson told JNS.
“We have full faith in the local authorities to get to the bottom of this,” said Rabbi Yitzchak “Itche” Itkin, director of Chabad on the Plaza. “We have had minor incidents in the past but nothing like this.”
After notifying the police, Itkin spread the word about what had happened on social media, writing online: “There is nothing more disturbing than walking into the Chabad House for an early-morning Torah class and finding the place torn up. Papers and books everywhere, electric wires ripped out, plumbing cut with water pouring everywhere. That was my reality this week.”
He also posted photos showing the extent of the damage and announced a fundraising campaign to rebuild. Within hours, tens of thousands of dollars had been pledged with the campaign closing on Sunday having raised more than $91,000, almost double the funds needed.
Though there has been no motive identified, the Anti-Defamation League Heartland branch said it was “deeply concerned by the shocking vandalism … . The targeting of this house of worship, especially during the festive holiday of Hanukkah, is particularly distributing and inflicts concern and fear in the larger community.”
The Jewish Community Relations Bureau/AJC of the greater Kansas City said: “We are aware of the vandalism that occurred at the Chabad of the Plaza this week. They deserve our community’s full support as they search for a new space. This appears to have been a burglary; there is no indication that this was an act of anti-Semitism.”
As for Chabad on the Plaza, it went ahead with its planned events, including Shabbat services in a temporary space and a large outdoor Hanukkah event on Sunday; all with the encouragement of the greater Kansas City community.
“It is extremely heartwarming to see the outpouring of love from all parts of the community,” said Itkin. “It just shows how much good and light there is in the world.”
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