‘The feeling is devastating’: Tucson synagogue vandalized with swastika, anti-Semitic slur – The Arizona Republic

Posted By on June 9, 2021

Rabbi Rami Bigelman and Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin speak with the media at Chabad on River in Tucson on June 8, 2021.(Photo: Chabad Tucson)

Tucson police are investigating after the Chabad on River synagogue was vandalized with a swastika and an anti-Semitic slur over the weekend.

Tucson police spokespersonOfficer Frank Magos said the vandalismhappened sometime between 8 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Monday.

He said detectives were searching the area for similar graffiti as part of the department's investigation into the incident.

As of Tuesday morning, Magos said no suspects were identified or in custody.

The vandalism was first reported by Orthodox Jewish news service COLlive,and the news was later shared by state Rep. Alma Hernandez, D-Tucson, who tweeted that she woke up to the news Tuesday morning.

"When it happens to one, it happens to all of us," she wrote. "The amount of Jewish hate isn't shocking. The silence is."

Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin of Chabad Tucson said the vandalism was discovered on Monday morning by a congregant coming to the synagogue for prayer and a Torah class.

Whoever committed the vandalism snipped a wire on a gate to gain access to the synagogue, Ceitlin said.

The new incident comes just three weeks after Hernandez's synagogue, Congregation Chaverim, was vandalized. At the time, Hernandez told The Arizona Republic she believed the incident was tied to the escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"We shouldn't have to pay the price here in Arizona, or anywhere, for what's going on in the Middle East," Hernandez said in May.

Ceitlin cited recent reports of rising anti-Semitism across the country, saying that the Tucson incidents reflect a worrying national trend.

"When something hits closer to home, the feeling is devastating," he said. "It personally hurts."

He said he hopes authorities, government officials and the public at large take a stance against the attacks.

"These opinions of bigotry should be rejected in all forms," he said. "We have to speak in a united front against this. This is not acceptable not in Tucson and not anywhere in America, not now or not ever."

Ceitlin said it is "not the time to be embarrassed and afraid" for being Jewish, adding that despite the increase in threats and attacks, "we cannot allow such hateful events to deter us from celebrating our Judaism."

Magos said Tuesday that police did not believe the two vandalism incidents were linked but it would be considered as part of the continuing investigation.

Gov. Doug Ducey alsocondemned the "terrible" vandalism in a response to Hernandez's tweet on Tuesday morning, saying that "Anti-Semitism has NO place in Arizona and this behavior cannot be tolerated."

Ducey said his team was making sure authorities were aware of the incident and working to hold those responsible accountable.

"Arizona stands with those of the Jewish faith," Ducey wrote.

U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., also decried the vandalism, tweeting on Tuesday afternoon:"Our hearts arewith the congregation of Chabad on River today."

"We must stand strong against anti-Semitism and with our Jewish brothers and sisters," Sinema wrote. "Hate has no place in our community."

Arizona-based organization Chicanos Por La Causa also issued a statement on Tuesday, saying that "respect of all communities and faiths is paramount to a diverse society."

"The targeted vandalism on Chabad on River is a heinous attempt to offend and frighten congregants and the Jewish community in Tucson," it said. "But together we stand, unafraid and ever stronger than hate."

Magos urged anyone with information aboutthe incident, or who sees similar graffiti in the area, to contact thePima County Attorney's Office's anonymous crime tip line at 520-882-7463.

Reach the reporter at bfrank@arizonarepublic.comor 602-444-8529. Follow her on Twitter @brieannafrank.

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'The feeling is devastating': Tucson synagogue vandalized with swastika, anti-Semitic slur - The Arizona Republic

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