Two Synagogues in Sarasota, FL Defaced By Anti-Semitic Vandal

July 16, 2020

Both Temple Sinai and Temple Emanu-El in Sarasota, Florida were targeted by an anti-Semitic vandal early Wednesday morning July 15th, the Herald Tribune reported. Both synagogues were spray painted with swastikas and anti-Semitic hate speech, likely by the same perpetrator.

The hateful graffiti was first discovered by an administrative assistant at Temple Sinai, according to the congregation’s president Ellen Bender. Bender said, “She found the graffiti all around the building, called me crying — this is her home — very upset, and I told her to call the police, which she did. It’s very hurtful, it’s very painful, it’s very sad. We have had this once before, Emanuel had it in April,” Bender said.

Both congregations has been mostly closed and have been meeting virtually due to COVID-19. The vandalism covered roughly three-quarters of Temple Sinai’s campus, portions of which are made of Jerusalem stone so that the congregation’s members can feel closer to Israel. The stones are difficult to clean due to their porous composition.

The vandalism was more severe at Temple Sinai, however this is the second time that Temple Emanu-El has been targeted with anti-Semitic vandalism in the last four months. Both congregations issued a joint statement to their members to inform them of the hate crime. Rabbi Brenner Glickman of Temple Emanu-El said, “It’s just evil and disgusting and awful.”

The damage to both synagogues was estimated to be in the “thousands of dollars.”

Both crimes are being investigated by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. A man was seen on a surveillance video walking onto the grounds of Temple Emanu-El at 151 McIntosh Road and a short while later, the same man appeared on the surveillance video at Temple Sinai at 4631 South Lockwood Ridge Road.

The CEO of the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, Howard Tevlowitz, discussed the incident in the context of a wider public debate about anti-Semitism in the United States. “The Jewish community, we’ve been living this issue for years. Anti-Semitism is running amuck in this country, and nobody is saying anything,” Tevlowitz said. “Anti-Semitism is socially acceptable,” he continued, referencing the lackluster response to recent anti-Semitic social media posts by celebrities including Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and by Ahmad Daraldik, the student senate president at Florida State University.

According to Tevlowitz, the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee will be spending additional resources to hire a security director that will work with local synagogues and other local Jewish organizations.

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Category:United States