28 July 2010
Swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans including the Nazi slogans “Arbeit macht frei” (Work will set you free) and “Juden raus” (Jews out) were spray-painted on the outside of the B'nai Shalom synagogue in Olney, Maryland, about 20 miles to the north of Washington, DC, shortly before parents arrived to drop their children off at a Jewish summer camp. A pile of coins also was left at the door, possibly an indication that Jews are money hungry, NBC reported.
Community President Debbie Kovalsky said 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," she told ‘Gazette.net’, a community publication.
The synagogue's rabbi told an NBC news program that he did not immediately have the slurs painted over, because he wanted congregation and committee members to 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,” the rabbi reportedly said.
In addition to the synagogue vandalism, two homes in the area were also spray-painted with swastikas and other symbols. The vandals had not been caught yet. Montgomery County police are investigating the attack as a hate crime, according to reports.
Meanwhile, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States remained at a "sustained and troubling" level, according to the annual assessment of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The 2009 audit of anti-Semitic incidents, released on Tuesday, recorded 1,211 incidents of vandalism, harassment and physical assaults against Jewish individuals, property and community institutions across the United States last year. The number fell from the 1,352 incidents reported in 2008, but some of the decline was likely because of revised methodology for reporting and tracking incidents that was unveiled in the 2009 audit, the ADL said.
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