A large menorah was toppled in a public park near Harvard University just before the start of the first night of Hanukkah, JTA reported on Tuesday.
A white male dressed in black was seen riding his black bike up to the menorah in Cambridge Common and pushing it over on Sunday afternoon, two eyewitnesses said. He then rode away.
“We’re looking into the possibility of it being a hate crime,” police spokesman Jeremy Warnick told the Boston Globe.
In a video recorded by a passer-by immediately after the menorah was toppled, a group of people walking through the Cambridge Common was seen lifting the menorah back into place. The video has been viewed more than 9,400 times.
The menorah is sponsored by Chabad at Harvard with permission of the city of Cambridge, said Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi, the college Chabad’s director. His organization has sponsored the public menorah for some 19 years, he told JTA.
The menorah has been vandalized before, Zarchi said, but the last time was about a decade or more ago.
Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern called such vandalism an act of hatred.
“Cambridge stands in opposition to such animus and remains vigilant to the slightest offense,” he tweeted.
On November 28, a 6-foot-high, 300-pound menorah was stolen from outside a synagogue in nearby Brookline, a Boston suburb. It was later found nearby, according to Boston police, who said the thief may have wanted to sell it as scrap metal.
Late last week, a nine-foot menorah in front of the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity house at Penn State University was vandalized.
The menorah, which was worth several thousand dollars, was knocked over and two branches damaged.
There have been several incidents of anti-Semitism across the US recently.
Last week, the office of a Jewish professor at Columbia University was spray painted with anti-Semitic graffiti.
Swastikas were spray painted on two walls of the office of Elizabeth Midlarsky, professor of psychology and education, at Columbia Teachers College. The word “YID” also was spray painted on a wall of the office of the professor, who is Jewish and who researches and publishes about the Holocaust.
In mid-November, a swastika and an upside-down cross were painted on a decorative post in front of a Jewish center in Miami Beach, Florida.
At the start of that month, a synagogue in Irvine, California, was defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti.