A New Jersey township was hit this week with its second ant-Semitic attack in two weeks, just a few hours after the end of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.
Early Tuesday, members of Edison Township’s Congregation Beth-El were horrified to discover that the front doors and windows of their house of worship were covered in blue — more specifically, three huge blue spray-painted Nazi swastikas.
The New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced that it would offer a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of the vandalism at the synagogue.
"The Anti-Defamation League shares Congregation Beth-El’s shock and indignation over this despicable act, which occurred only hours after Yom Kippur, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar," Etzion Neuer, director of the ADL’s New Jersey regional office, said in a statement released to the media.
Local Police Chief Brian Collier told the New Jersey Star-Ledger, "We’re certainly not pleased with this kind of nonsense." The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office is also involved in the investigation because the incident was classified as a bias crime.
Link to Rosh HaShanah Attack?
Police were tight-lipped on whether there was a link between the vandalism and a vicious attack nine days earlier on a 16-year-old student at the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva, on Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year.
The student, a resident of the town, told police detectives that a gang of youths in their mid-to-late teens shouted anti-Semitic slurs at him while he was beating him. They jumped him from behind, knocked him down and one youth punched him in the head with a fist. The boy sustained a cut above his right eye, which was swollen, and was later hospitalized with a concussion. The attack was classified as a bias crime.
There have been several other anti-Semitic incidents in Edison this year as well, including a swastika painted on a man’s car in shopping center parking lot in July, another one painted on a fence in June, and a third scrawled with a black marker in March on a local church.
Anti-Semitism Not New in New Jersey Town
Last year, obscene and anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered scrawled on the walls inside the yeshiva, according to the New Jersey Jewish News. Students and a staff member told the newspaper they were often taunted by neighborhood youths, who yelled anti-Semitic slurs at them as they walked by.
Rabbi Dr. Berhard Rosenberg, the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth-El, recalled that in 2003, he and his wife were pelted with eggs as he and his wife walked to synagogue on the Sabbath. He told NJJN that there was a pattern to the incidents, adding, "If you don’t punish people, they will continue to do it."