The rabbi of a Brooklyn synagogue that was defaced on Wednesday with the word “Hitler” scrawled on its outer wall has urged his congregants to express pride in their Judaism as a response.
“The best response possible — move on, live your life, be a proud Jew, be proud of who you are,” Rabbi Asher Altshul of Congregation Beth Shalom in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn told CBS News.
Altshul discovered the offending graffiti when he arrived at the synagogue at 6.30 am on Wednesday for morning prayers.
The name of the Nazi dictator was sprayed in large white letters on the synagogue’s wall. Some of Beth Shalom’s congregants are survivors of the Holocaust in the former Soviet Union.
“Obviously, I was kind of in shock,” the Rabbi said. “It’s a very safe neighborhood. Nothing like that happened here before. And I spoke to congregants of the center that were here 40 years, 50 years, never such a thing happened before.”
Altshul contacted both the police and local Councilwoman Inna Vernikov, who pointed to her own family’s experience of antisemitism and the Nazi occupation in Eastern Europe.
“We escaped all of that,” Vernikov said. “We escaped universities [that] were spray-painted,” she said to CBS News. “People were beaten just for being Jewish, and we ran away from that to come to a place of freedom and tolerance, and to see this is absolutely horrifying.”
Antisemitic outrages targeting Jews in the New York area have increased precipitously in the last two years. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), hate crimes in New York City rose 196 percent from 2020 to 2021, with Jews being the target of 40 percent of all hate crime incidents.
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