Swastika Epidemic in the United States

Swastikas & other anti-Semitic messages have been sprayed, scratched and scrawled on synagogues, stores and street signs across the United States.

Contact Editor
Ze'ev Ben-Yechiel,

An epidemic of swastikas has spread in the United States in recent days. Police are scrambling to find suspects as Nazi symbols and other anti-Semitic graffiti have appeared on storefronts, synagogues and other locations in dozens of locations across the country.  Many incidents occurred over the Labor Day holiday.  Rewards have been offered for the finding of the culprits.

In Arizona, graffiti “artists” spray-painted swastikas on several buildings, including a Family Dollar store. Some of the swastikas were accompanied by a painted circle with an “x” running through it and the words “Say No” appearing in the middle. Police are looking for the culprits of these attacks and others in the area, including the painting of swastikas and other anti-Semitic messages on a traffic sign, a garage door and several mailboxes.

On Sunday, near Boston, Massachusetts, a swastika was found scratched into the door of a Reform temple. Suspects have yet to be found after Rabbi Benjamin Lefkowitz found the Nazi symbol on the door of Temple Beth Sholom in the town of Hull, according to the local newspaper The Patriot Ledger.

Jewish institutions in Georgia and California also became the repeated targets of swastika tagging over the weekend.

The same Sunday of the Hull, Mass. attack, the Atlanta Jounal-Constitution reported that in the Atlanta, Georgia suburb of Sandy Springs, a swastika was found painted on a stop sign near a Jewish day school. It was the second time in a month that the area near the Epstein School has been targeted with swastikas.

Sandy Springs police announced Tuesday that they were doubling the reward offered for information leading to the capture and conviction of the perpetrators, from $2,500 to $5,000.

Over the weekend, vandals painted a swastika on a Conservative synagogue northeast of San Diego, California. The San Diego Sheriff’s Department reported that it was the third time since April that Temple Ner Tamid in Poway was targeted with anti-Semitic graffiti. Local authorities reported that the synagogue, serving some 120 families, was targeted in May with “white-supremacist letters, numbers and signs”, including symbols that apparently meant “Heil Hitler.”

The Anti-Defamation League, an organization founded to combat anti-Semitism and other hate crimes, led a number of other organizations in offering a cash reward of $11,500 for information helping the police to apprehend the suspects in the Ner Tamid case.

In upstate New York, a swastika was discovered Saturday morning on a local synagogue by postal workers. Goldie Goldberg, president of the Kerhonkson Synagogue, said that until it was painted over the swastika was large enough to be visible from the road. Kerhonkson is a small community about 70 miles north of New York City near the Catskill Mountains, an area long known for its numerous summer resorts catering to Jewish families. The synagogue serves about 40 families.

In St. Cloud, Minnesota, paper cutouts of the letters “KKK” – likely a reference to the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan – were found Monday taped to the wall of an elevator of a residence hall on the campus of St. Cloud State University.

Police say that the case may be linked to the appearance last year of more than a dozen swastikas and other racist images, carved or written on walls, bathroom stalls and elevators across the St. Paul-Minneapolis-area campus.

Last Thursday, an 18-year-old in Longview, Washington, was arrested for assaulting an interracial couple. Shawn Mooney wore a cap with a swastika during the attack, and police are also questioning him in a case of swastikas that were found spray-painted on the home of a black family in the town.