Daily Israel Report

Synagogue in Maryland Vandalized

Synagogue spray-painted with anti-Semitic words and symbols.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/29/2010, 12:30 AM / Last Update: 7/29/2010, 12:24 AM

Israel news photo

A synagogue in Olney, Maryland was vandalized earlier this week.

Parents who arrived to drop off their children at B’Nai Shalom Synagogue’s summer day camp on Monday morning discovered that anti-Semitic words and symbols, including swastikas and the words “Arbeit Macht Frei” (work will set you free, the same words that were on the sign above the Auschwitz concentration camp) and “Juden raus” (Jews out), were spray-painted along the building.

A pile of coins was left at the door of the synagogue, possibly to indicate that Jews are money hungry .Two homes in the vicinity were also spray-painted with swastikas.

Synagogue Rabbi Ari Sunshine said during an interview with NBC News that he did not immediately have the graffiti painted over so that his congregants could see what had happened:  “If we just cover over the words and the symbols and get rid of it in the next hour or two hours, without a chance for people to come together and work at that and symbolically stand together as we remove these words, then a great teaching opportunity will have been lost.”

Community President Debbie Kovalsky said during an interview with community publication ‘Gazette.net’ that the damage is “heart wrenching to see. The fact that someone out there is knowledgeable about this kind of hate, this is more upsetting than some teenager with spray-paint… We will heal, but this should not be tolerated in any community.”

The vandals have not yet been caught. Montgomery County police are investigating the attack as a hate crime.

This is the second crime against a synagogue in the past week. On Friday, an explosion hit the Jewish synagogue in Malmo, Sweden, shattering three window panes but causing no injuries. This followed another explosion in the same synagogue two weeks earlier, again without injuries.

The number of anti-Semitic incidents around the world has risen over the last year to troubling numbers. According to a report published in April by the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Anti-Semitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University, 2009 was the worst in terms of anti-Semitism. In the United States 116 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded, up from 98 in 2008.

In Sweden, 79 anti-Semitic crimes were reported in 2009 in Malmo alone. The continued anti-Semitic acts have caused many Jews to flee the town.