Norfolk synagogues marred by anti-Semitic messages
By Patrick WilsonThe Virginian-Pilot© April 19, 2009
Several synagogues and streets were vandalized with anti-Semitic and racial messages discovered by worshippers early Saturday morning, a Norfolk police spokeswoman said.
Police are investigating reports of vandalism in at least five places in the Ghent neighborhood and on Granby Street, said Karen Parker-Chesson, a police department spokeswoman. An anti-gay slur was reported at one location.
“There is an investigation under way and we don’t have any suspects at this time,” Parker-Chesson said Saturday night.
Police did not say which synagogues were vandalized.
Police investigators think the slurs might have been done to mark the birth of Adolf Hitler, Parker-Chesson said. Hitler was born April 20.
The Anti-Defamation League says hate groups are planning gatherings in Florida, Missouri and North Carolina to commemorate Hitler’s birth.
Some hate groups are encouraging loyalists to distribute racist leaflets in the run-up to Hitler’s birthday, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s Web site.
Rabbi Michael Panitz of Temple Israel on Granby Street said worshippers arrived to find small, anti-Semitic stickers on window panes on the side of the building.
Police arrived quickly to do forensic work, he said.
Worshippers continued with their 9:30 a.m. service while police investigated outside.
The stickers shocked worshippers at first, Panitz said.
“People were certainly sobered and in some cases, it triggered some very personal, some very sad memories because our worship congregation includes people who are refugees from lands of oppression,” he said. “But there was certainly a collective, quiet resolve that we will not be terrorized … from worshipping in public together.”
In the 17 years he has been rabbi at Temple Israel, Panitz said, there have been a couple of comparable vandalisms at the synagogue.
Patrick Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org