Vandals nail another Sacramento synagogue

| January 8, 2010

Members of an Orthodox synagogue in Sacramento arrived for a Jan. 1 morning minyan and discovered spray-painted swastikas and other graffiti — the second act of vandalism at a Sacramento-area synagogue in the past two months.

The vandalism at Kenesset Israel Torah Center included swastikas, demonic symbols and “hate-based rhetoric,” according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. The number “666” and the word “Satan” were spray-painted in black on the brick façade of the center.

Four cars parked near the synagogue also were spray-painted with the numbers “666” inside a Star of David.

A member of a neighboring church who professionally cleans graffiti offered to help clean up, and the symbols were removed by the end of the day Jan. 1, said Simone Clay, president of Kenesset Israel Torah Center.

“I’m much more touched by the support we received than [hurt by] the act that caused it,” Clay said. “It was just a couple of cowards who came in the night. But the support — that is something important. It shows we have a solid place in this community.”

After local TV stations, radio stations and the Sacramento Bee did stories about the vandalism, the Torah Center received calls from a number of local churches and all of Sacramento’s synagogues.

“Our community is small,” said Jenny Jeffrey, temple administrator at Congregation Beth Shalom in nearby Carmichael. “One of the first things we did was to reach out and say, ‘How can we support you?’ ”

Congregants at Beth Shalom felt their own sting of vandalism in November, when, on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, vandals spray-painted a swastika, “kristallnacht still lives” and “SS” on the temple’s windows and building, according to a sheriff’s department release. Deputies also found bushes in front of the synagogue that had been set on fire, the release noted.

That incident was categorized as a hate crime and deputies immediately requested assistance from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive and the Sheriff’s Bias Crimes Unit.

The Knesset Israel Torah Center and Congregation Beth Shalom were also among three Sacramento-area synagogues that suffered damage in three early morning fires set by arsonists within 35 minutes of each other in June 1999. The other was Congregation B’nai Israel.

Anyone with information about the recent vandalism is being urged to contact the sheriff’s department at (916) 874-5115 or Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP. Tipsters can remain anonymous and might be eligible for up to a $1,000 reward.

Tags: ,

Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security