Oakland, CA Synagogue Hit with Swastika Vandalism

October 21, 2020

A swastika was painted on the historic wooden sanctuary doors of Temple Sinai in Oakland, California early Monday morning according to congregational Rabbi Jacqueline Mates-Muchin, J. The Jewish News of Northern California reported. 

The graffiti is being investigated as a hate crime by the Oakland Police Department. Over the past few weeks, the synagogue has been vandalized several times, in a series that went from paint splotches and bizarre drawings to the most recent overtly anti-Semitic symbol.

The synagogue’s building is over 100 years old and dates back to 1914. “Our sanctuary is a historic landmark and the doors, we believe, are original,” Rabbi Mates-Muchin told the J. She explained that the synagogue is used to dealing with regular graffiti because, “We’re urban, so we’ve always had some graffiti.” 

The recent graffiti appears to be more targeted. The carved Stars of David on the historic sanctuary doors have been vandalized twice before according to the rabbi. Mates-Muchin said “a strange picture of a pig” was recently found on the synagogue’s grounds. The latest incident was the first recent instance of graffiti that was explicitly anti-Semitic. “A swastika was right over a Jewish star,” she said.

The police have been pouring over the the synagogue’s security camera footage and are taking the incident very seriously, Mates-Muchin said.

Temple Sinai has been targeted before. On the morning of Rosh Hashanah in 2017, synagogue leaders arrived before services to find an obscene, anti-Semitic slur on the building, with the impending arrival of 1,200 worshippers. This time fewer people saw the graffiti and congregants were alerted to the news by email.

Temple Sinai, officially the First Hebrew Congregation of Oakland, is a Reform synagogue located near downtown Oakland. Founded in 1875, it is the oldest Jewish congregation in the East San Francisco Bay region.

For Rabbi Mates-Muchin, the graffiti is a sobering reminder that much remains to be done to change the world for the better. “I just think that none of us can be complacent about working very hard for the world we want to be living in,” she told the J.

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Category:United States