Virginia Jewish couple's home defaced with antisemitic graffiti

ADL expands security training with FBI after new wave of bomb threats.

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February 1, 2017 14:21
2 minute read.
antisemitic vandalism

Antisemitic vandalism on the Virginia home of Mia Bermann.. (photo credit: MIA BERMANN)

 
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A Jewish couple from Northern Virginia returned home this week to discover that vandals had visited their home and defaced their front door with antisemitic and Nazi graffiti, on two separate occasions.

A swastika was the first nasty surprise left on the front door of their home, located in a wealthy county in Northern Virginia. Mia Bermann and Shai Van Gelder returned home the following day on Tuesday evening to find the words “Jew pigs” had been added below the swastika.

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Bermann posted pictures of her front door to Facebook, saying “repulsed, angry, sickened, nauseated, full of despair... none of them begin to describe what it felt like to walk up to my door and see this. Is there any kindness left in this world?!” After returning home to find the added graffiti, she uploaded a new picture, commenting: “Our newest addition. I am terrified.”

“People really think of antisemitism as a thing of the past, and it isn’t – not at all. You think this can’t happen to you, and then it does. It’s not just ‘close to home’ – this is our home,” Bermann said in a written exchange with The Jerusalem Post. “Where are you supposed to feel safe, if not in your own home?” “Hatred is hatred. Ignorance is ignorance.

They will always exist, but we can send a message saying that we will not accept this,” she continued. “This is unacceptable and we need to take the power back and to speak up for ourselves.”

The couple reported the incidents to the police as well as to the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish organizations.

Bermann noted that the police had been helpful and had installed a surveillance camera at the entrance to their home, though they also acknowledged that criminals of this type are hard to catch.



The couple itself is at a loss as to who could have perpetrated the crime. “We have no conflict with our neighbors and have never even put a mezuza on our front door, because we were afraid something like this would happen,” she continued.

“You never know who your neighbors are,” she added, saying she had been raised not to “flaunt” her Judaism. “A bit ridiculous, but sadly necessary,” she remarked.

This incident occurred the same day as Jewish community centers in at least eight states across the United States were targeted with bomb threats in the third wave of threats of this kind this month.

JCCs in California, Colorado, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Utah and Wisconsin all reported that they had been targeted.

Reacting to the development, which added to at least 30 previous threats called in to JCCs earlier this month, the ADL decided to expand security training it has been organizing in partnership with the FBI, on the heels of the series of bomb threats.

While so far no bombs have been found in any of the threats, ADL has been closely monitoring the situation and has been in regular contact with federal and local law enforcement agencies across the country.

“Unfortunately, threats like this are nothing new for the Jewish community,” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

“Still, it is vitally important to take these threats seriously and to ensure that every institution is prepared to respond to this type of security emergency. That is why we are partnering with the FBI, local institutions and law enforcement to ensure that all of our community institutions are safe and secure.”

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