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Anti-Semitic graffiti found at Carmel synagogue

IndyStar

Police are investigating after anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered over the weekend at a Hamilton County synagogue.

According to the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, the vandalism occurred at Congregation Shaarey Tefilla in the 3000 block of West 116th Street in Carmel. The vandalism occurred late Friday or early Saturday and was discovered Saturday morning.

Congregation Shaarey Tefilla moved from their old location off of Central Ave. in Indianapolis to West 116th St. in Carmel Sunday, December 9, 2007.
Congregation Shaarey Tefilla moved from their old location off of Central Ave. in Indianapolis to West 116th St. in Carmel Sunday, December 9, 2007.
INDYSTAR ARCHIVES

The crime scene remained intact and surrounded in yellow police tape Sunday morning. The graffiti, which comprised a pair of Nazi flags and iron crosses, was spray painted on two walls of a brick shed that surrounds the property’s garbage bin.

On the grass in front of one of the Nazi flags, there are apparent burn marks in two places, and a portion of the graffiti bears a black burn mark, too.

Vandals painted a Nazi flag on a garbage bin shed at Congregation Shaarey Tefilla in the 3000 block of West 116th Street.
Vandals painted a Nazi flag on a garbage bin shed at Congregation Shaarey Tefilla in the 3000 block of West 116th Street.
JUSTIN MACK / INDYSTAR

“We are deeply disappointed in the horrific vandalism that occurred at our congregation,” Shaarey Tefilla Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow said in a statement. “Intolerance, hatred, and violent acts against Jews are significant realities today. The response to this heinous act affirms that America is collectively outraged at these hateful acts in our neighborhoods.”

One of the Nazi flags was covered Sunday by an olive green tarp that had been taped up to cover the graffiti. But the other, flanked by iron crosses, was uncovered by congregant Eli Keren.

He said he pulled the tarp down Sunday, so that people could see what happened and feel the same anger and disappointment he felt when confronted by the hateful images the day before.

“For me to see this, it kind of hits home. I’m first generation after the Holocaust. My father’s family is from Poland. My mother’s family is from Hungary. And 90 percent of our family went up in smoke just under this particular flag in (concentration camps) and this kind of hate and bigotry,” he explained. “The people who did this probably don’t even know what this represents. I would welcome them and their families and the people who fed them this hate to come here and speak with us. Understand who we are and what we are, and maybe they’ll stop hating us so much.”

His wife, Tamar Keren, said that the couple came to Carmel from Israel about two years ago, and this is the first time she has come face to face with anti-Semitism.

“It’s very emotional now, because it’s the first time ever for me to see something like that. Seeing that is very disturbing. … It makes me feel like there is no safe place for Jewish people except Israel,” she said through tears. “I’m not happy to see that. I’m happy that I went through my life without seeing those (symbols) and I’m very sorry I had to face it here.”

Eli Keren said that he has been encouraged by the messages of support he’s received from everyone in the community, and he said that this act of vandalism is not going to send him running.

“I’m not scared for our safety, because these people are bullies. They are cowards. If they come say it to my face, they’ll probably realize how small they are,” he said. “These people, they will disappear … the same way the Nazis did.

“So no sheets. No hooded bonnets or whatever. Just come say it out loud to my face.”

Congregation responds

Information on possible suspects is not yet available, but Corey Freedman, president of Congregation Shaarey Tefilla, said investigators believe the crime happened between 11 p.m. Friday and 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

The graffiti will again be covered, but not to hide it from view, Freedman said. The goal is to preserve the evidence, so that police can find the culprit. Until further notice, the shed and the area around it are considered active crime scenes that citizens should avoid.

“It was disturbing to say the least,” Freedman said of the vandalism. “I think we can all say we’ve had some family that was lost in World War II.”

But after the pain, Freedman said the congregation was embraced by a wave of support that came pouring in from across the globe. They plan to celebrate that unity at a community and interfaith gathering at 6 p.m. Monday at Congregation Shaarey Tefilla.

“For those that feel emboldened to do these kind of things, I want them to understand that they are the minority, that it is not tolerated and that we will stand together to help fight this,” Freedman said. “If their heart is that hardened with hate, I would hope that there would be a way in which they can find a method to get past it … to understand that we are all human.”

In response to the crime, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard condemned the actions of those responsible and made it clear that he wants the guilty party held responsible.

“There is no place for this kind of hatred in Carmel and it does not reflect the respectful and welcoming nature of the vast majority of our residents who come from many different cultural and faith backgrounds,” Brainard said in a statement. “As we are reminded each year during our city’s Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony, we must never forget and never stop fighting against the hatred that led to the murder of 6 million Jews. These images that represent the ideas that led to those crimes are not reflective of what our city stands for.

“I want to assure the Congregation Shaarey Tefilla and all of our residents that our Carmel Police Department is already investigating this incident and when apprehended, those responsible will be held accountable.”

The Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council is working closely with the congregation to offer assistance and support. The organization has also reached out to other Indianapolis-area congregations to ensure that they are taking the necessary security precautions.

Carmel Police Department officials said Sunday that the crime remains under investigation, and more information should be released this week.

Indiana without hate crime law

The incident happens little more than a year after two bomb threats were called into the Indianapolis Jewish Community Center at 6701 Hoover Road on Indianapolis’ north side.

The first threat was called in Feb. 27, 2017, which was the same day that legislation targeting hate crimes died in the Indiana legislature.

The two threats also followed a wave of threats and vandalism against Jewish organizations and people nationwide. Within the month of the JCC scares, bomb threats had been called in across the country, and vandals damaged more than 200 headstones in Philadelphia and St. Louis.

In 2016, an Indiana hate crimes bill failed to advance despite a record 69 hate crimes being reported to the state. The measure also failed in 2015, as the state grappled with religious freedom and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The hate crimes bill was back on the table for the 2018 legislative session. But in January, Senate Republicans could not reach agreement about Senate Bill 418, which would have allowed judges to impose tougher sentences for crimes motivated by factors such as race, religion, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

At the time, Senate President Pro Tempore David Long said he believes there is growing public acceptance for the legislation and he expects Indiana lawmakers to take it up again in 2019.

A recent poll indicated that nearly two-thirds of Hoosiers are in favor a hate crimes law. Indiana is one of only five states without such a law.

https://amp.indystar.com/amp/858786002

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4 Responses to Anti-Semitic graffiti found at Carmel synagogue

  1. Neal Joitke says:

    The Jews killed the son of god for blasphamy. Using a false flag tactic of crusifiction to blame the Romans for it. The Jews did this paint job praying to the devil for more hate crime laws. These Jews in are midst are a hazard to be near or have in the country.

  2. ubeteda says:

    cui bono?

  3. Kilo McStrife says:

    Is it still anti-semitic when they find it’s a jew who painted the flag?

    • # 1 NWO Hatr says:

      Not if they find him to be not of sound mind at the time (jews make the best shrinks, you know 🙄 )

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