Police are looking for a man who vandalized an Upper East Side sukkah on Saturday morning – and whose destruction spree was stopped by a good samaritan, according to the synagogue’s leader. .
Security footage from around 1:20 a.m. shows the man kicking in the plexiglass of a sukkah outside the Chabad Israel Center on East 92nd Street and First Avenue, then urinating inside the structure, police said. The temporary hut is used in the week-long Jewish harvest ceremony of Sukkot.
Rabbi Uriel Vigler, the co-director of the Chabad Israel Center, said he arrived at services on Saturday morning to find the structure nearly destroyed. He waited until sundown – the end of Shabbat – to view the security cameras
“Someone came from Second Avenue, first urinated on the sukkot, then kicked down the plexiglass and tried to kick down the whole structure,” Vigler told Gothamist on Sunday. “While he’s doing this he is interrupted by a good New Yorker who stopped him in his tracks.”
Video shows a person in a blue cap confronting the man, who then walks away with his hands raised.
“We are grateful to the brave New Yorker, who demonstrated what New York is all about, standing up to look after one another,” Vigler added.
Police said they were seeking the vandal on charges of criminal mischief. The attack is not believed to have been a bias incident, since the structure did not contain Jewish imagery, according to an NYPD spokesperson.
The sukkot was built Friday to give local families a place to observe the holiday, which begins on Sunday evening.
“New Yorkers live in apartments and don’t have backyards, but they need to fulfill the commandment to eat in a sukkot, so we build it on the street for them,” Vigler added.
He said the incident demonstrated the importance of the unity-focused holiday.
“We all need to learn that we don’t tolerate this kind of hatred and animosity and rage,” he said. “The response to anti-semitism is an increase in good deeds. A little light dispels darkness.”