WASHINGTON – Police are investigating the vandalism of a synagogue and two
nearby homes in Olney, Maryland, as a hate crime, as the Washington suburb’s
local council denounced the incident and expressed solidarity with the
“A hate crime directed against any segment of our community
is in fact directed against our entire community,” declared the Montgomery
County Council, in a resolution that passed unanimously Tuesday, a day after
anti- Semitic graffiti was found covering the synagogue and at two
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The slurs spray-painted on the B’nai Shalom of Olney
synagogue included “Death to Zionists,” “Kike,” “F**k Israel” and a smattering
of German phrases including “Judenraus” and “Arbeit Macht Frei,” the phrase that
hung above the entrance to Auschwitz. The English translation of the latter –
“Work Will Set You Free” – was also scrawled.
Code connected to White
Supremacist activity was also found, as well as a scattering of coins,
presumably in a reference to stereotypes about Jews and money.
County police told The Jerusalem Post they had not made any arrests as of
Wednesday, but were still reviewing evidence obtained at the synagogue and two
homes. The houses had their mailboxes pained red and swastikas sprayed on their
The attack was the first of its kind in more than 30 years,
according to Rabbi Ari Sunshine. He said he was alerted to the crime when a
passerby spotted the vandalism early Monday morning and called the police, who
informed him of what had happened.
“I was shocked,” Sunshine said of
receiving the news, though he added that what most struck him was the “totality”
of the graffiti once he saw it, as it covered the whole building, its parking
lot, the sidewalk out front and lamp posts.
He said that reactions among
the 430 families who belong to the Conservative congregation ranged from “shock
to sadness to anger.”
While Sunshine and his staff could have immediately
removed the graffiti when then found it Monday morning, he said they decided to
wait until 3 p.m. “so as a community we could participate in the process of
Around 200 people showed up Monday afternoon, and 500 came
that night to a special evening service and program dedicated to what had
happened. Sunshine said that many people from neighborhood churches and other
synagogues turned up for the event.
“Extensive support has come from all
over,” he said. “We really have to carry that forward.”