Florida Judaica store vandal identified

Anti-Semitic messages were also found on a minivan in the center's parking lot.

Florida police announced this week that a suspect has been identified but not yet arrested in an anti-Semitic vandalism. Four painted swastikas and a message saying "Burn the Jews" were discovered by a Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy at the YiddishKeit Judaica book and gift shop in Boca Raton on Sunday morning. The sheriff's office spokeswoman, Teri Barbera, reported that similar messages were found on a Chrysler Voyager minivan in the center's parking lot. The minivan belonged to a non-Jewish florist who was out of town when the graffiti was painted early Sunday. Owner Joseph Brooks said that in early March, vandals painted a small swastika on one of his store windows. "This is the second time this year that I've been a target of hateful graffiti," Brooks said. "I'm shocked and worried because before it was a little thing and now it's on the entire storefront. I can't know if the two incidents are related but I'm concerned about the escalation of this." Bill Gralnick, regional director of the American Jewish Committee, suspects that schoolchildren committed the vandalism, which he says increases as the end of the school year approaches. The last day for most students this year will be May 31. Seeing the images was disturbing for Rick Alovis, president of Temple Beth Shira, located close to the plaza. "This happened in our own backyard," Alovis said. "I was shocked and saddened by the realization that anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, intolerance and ignorance are still very much a part of the world we live in." Brooks praised both the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County and the Anti-Defamation League for their immediate involvement and concern.