Messages of support at the Chabad.
(photo credit: CHABAD OF FLAGSTAFF)
Swastikas were spray-painted on windows and carved into walls at the site of a Chabad center under construction in Flagstaff, Arizona, last weekend, in an incident which is being treated as a hate crime by the local police.
The graffiti and vandalism attack is thought to have happened between last Friday night and Monday morning.
According to the Arizona Daily Sun
, the Flagstaff Police Department said the incident was being treated as a hate crime because of the center’s “affiliation with a synagogue, and because of how the swastika symbol has been used historically.”
While nothing was stolen during the break-in, Flagstaff police spokesman Sergeant Charles Hernandez said the incident is “defiantly alarming.”
Rabbi Dovie Shapiro – who heads the Chabad center in Flagstaff – said it was “pretty clear that it was an act of hate,” and described the incident as a setback to the construction of what will be called the Molly Blank Jewish Community Center.
Shapiro said, however, that the attack had strengthened the resolve of the Jewish community and its leadership to increase their activities and devotion to Jewish life in the city.
“We are looking forward to when we can open our doors to everyone in the community and keep teaching a message of acceptance and love,” said Shapiro.
The rabbi said that although the attack had left the Jewish community feeling “shaken up and alone,” the wider community had given them great support and demonstrated its solidarity with the Jewish community.
One reporter who covered the incident made a tin-foil covered cardboard heart and hung it on the construction-site’s fence, an act that was copied by dozens of other city residents.
One supporter wrote on their heart “My heart is with all of you and your new synagogue. We love and support you and need you.”
Another heart – made by representatives from Coconino County in which Flagstaff is located – read “We might not be able to help you with the challenges you are faced with, but we can assure you that you don’t have to face those challenges alone.”
Said Shapiro: “When people do acts of hate for no reason, way to respond is with acts of love. Loving your fellow as yourself is essential teaching of Chabad, and seeing people do this was really inspiring and lifted our spirits.”
The graffiti in Flagstaff comes following an incident in February in Brooklyn, New York in which the front window of a Chabad synagogue was deliberately smashed.
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