Vandals destroyed a large public menorah in Orange County last weekend, an act classified as a hate crime by authorities.
The steel menorah, weighing 150 pounds and standing 15 feet high and 10 feet wide, was located in Ladera Ranch, a planned community near Mission Viejo.
Sometime between Friday evening and Saturday morning (Dec. 23-24), one or more vandals cut the stem of the menorah, broke its lightbulbs and smashed its stars, Lt. Lloyd Downing of the Orange County Sheriff's Department told the Los Angeles Times. An adjacent Christmas tree was left untouched.
A public lighting ceremony for the menorah had been planned for Monday evening (Dec. 26), said Robert Cohen, a local resident, who built it four years ago. He reported that vandals covered the menorah with toilet paper last year.
Cohen posted a message on the community's private Web site that the ceremony would take place using smaller menorahs. He urged Jews to invite their neighbors of other faiths to the event.
In response to Cohen's posting, the Rev. Steve Wright of the local Village Presbyterian Church wrote that "I pray that those who are responsible for this terrible act will be caught and brought to justice. We will include you and all our Jewish friends and neighbors in our prayers."
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