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Tucson's Chabad on River synagogue vandalized

Incident investigated as hate crime
Posted at 10:34 AM, Jun 08, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Someone attacked and vandalized a small Tucson Synagogue over the weekend. It’s the second attack on a Tucson synagogue in less than a month.

Mayor Regina Romero said that Tucson police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

There is a hole in the fence behind Chabad on River Synagogue. It is where hatred came through and marked the house of worship.

About 8, Monday morning a congregation member came to Chabad on River for a devotional class. He found a hateful message sprayed on a door. We’ve blurred it so we are not helping to spread that message. It includes a symbol of hate often directed at Jews and racist language we don’t really need to repeat.

Rabbi Rami Bigelman says, “It’s very disturbing. We feel unsafe. And we're really not sure what's going on over here.”

Rabbi Bigelman says the synagogue has good relations with its neighbors but it’s suffered about ten break ins in the past four years.

“I don't know if it's a trend or not a trend. That’s not important. Anti Semitism is something that should not be tolerated."

Another synagogue was attacked about three weeks ago. Someone threw a rock through the door at Congregation Chaverim near Speedway. It’s less than five miles from the site of this latest attack.

Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin of Chabad of Tucson says the Anti Defamation League has seen anti Jewish attacks rise nationwide in the month since conflict escalated between Israelis and Palestinians. He worries the next attacker will bring more than a can of spray paint.

“And I'm really concerned about that. And that's it, we're in touch with the authorities, we're in touch with elected officials on how to address this in a proper way, in a way that would prevent such things from happening, and hopefully nothing worse or nothing continuous.”

And the Rabbis say they are hoping to boost security at synagogues large and small.

If you have any information on the vandalism Tucson Police ask that you call 88-CRIME.

Rep. Alma Hernandez reacted to the vandalism on Twitter Tuesday.

"Sad to wake up to the news that @Chabad on River was vandalized. When it happens to one, it happens to all of us. The amount of Jewish hate isn’t shocking. The silence is. This is NOT my #Tucson," she said.

The Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona and Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona released this statement Tuesday:

Yesterday a devastating act of antisemetism was discovered at the Chabad on River. An entry door was defaced with a swastika and an antisemitic slur.

This comes just weeks after vandalism against Congregation Chaverim where a rock was thrown through a window in the front door of the synagogue. These horrendous antisemitic acts will not be tolerated and there is no place for hatred in our community.

The Jewish Federation and Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona stand beside our synagogue and agency partners amidst these despicable acts. President and CEO, Graham Hoffman stated, “We call upon our allies, neighbors, and fellow Tucsonans to stand with us in combating heinous acts of intimidation, hatred, and antisemitism. The rights to assemble and worship in peace and safety are cornerstones of American democracy. Engagement with the Southern Arizona community to prevent and eliminate hate in all its manifestations will continue to be a priority for the Federation and Foundation and all of our partners.” The rapid rise of antisemitic vandalism, harassment, and violence, as reported by the Anti-Defamation League, across the U.S., is tragic and has no place in Southern Arizona or anywhere.

We urge anyone with information about the perpetrators to come forward and contact law enforcement. Security remains a top priority for the Southern Arizona Jewish community. Security Directors, Paul Patterson and Chelsea Gutierrez are at the forefront of these efforts and maintain deep and ongoing relationships with local and national law enforcement.

Our community is stronger together. We will continue to proudly engage, unite, and combat antisemitism. Only together can we vanquish all forms of intolerance and hatred and advance critical community building efforts to repair our fractured world.