Police at the University of California at Davis are investigating the vandalism of a sukkah constructed by the off-campus Chabad House.

According to a report over the weekend in the school's California Aggie newspaper, representatives of the university's Student Programs and Activities Center reported discovering anti-Israel statements spray-painted on the interior of the sukkah. Photographs taken at the time show two messages: "End Israeli Occupation" took up a good portion of a blank wall; "Free Palestine!" appeared on a sign belonging to Chabad-Lubavitch of Davis and wishing passersby a "Happy Sukkot."

Rabbi Shmary Brownstein, co-director of the Chabad House with wife Sorele Brownstein, said in an interview on Sunday that a Hillel official notified him of the vandalism on Friday, the last day of Sukkot. In more than four years on campus, he said, this is the first time he's had to deal with someone singling out a sukkah for vandalism.


"This is a sukkah," he stated in amazement. "The existence of it is a religious requirement and not a political statement in any way."

Brownstein, who also used a sukkah built right next to his house for the duration of the holiday, said that more than 30 students joined him and his family for a party on Monday in the campus sukkah. He was thankful that the crime occurred at the end of the holiday.

"I'm certainly not happy that I have to figure out how to get it off," he added. "I hope it won't cause problems in the future."

Officials at the police department were unavailable for comment.

Mike Amerikaner, Hillel's program director, told the Aggie that anti-Semitism has become a growing problem at Davis, a northern California school with an estimated student population of 30,000, 10 percent of which is Jewish.

"This is not something that's new," he said. "We've been dealing with anti-Semitism on campus for awhile now."

Another California sukkah, the one outside of S. Jose State University's Hillel of Silicon Valley, was found torched last week.

For his part, Brownstein said that he's preferring to look at the incident as an opportunity. He emphasized that authorities still do not know who did it.

Said the rabbi: "We want to use this as an opportunity to promote Jewish pride, unity and awareness."