Maryland synagogue vandalized

Anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist graffiti sprayed on temple.

July 29, 2010 01:55
2 minute read.


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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 congregation.

“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 residences.

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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.

Montgomery 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 driveways.

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 cleansing.”

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.”

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