3 Clearwater shuls hit by anti-Semitic graffiti
The three congregations - one Reform, one Conservative and one Chabad - all found the graffiti scrawled in chalk on sidewalks and/or driveways outside their buildings on the morning of Thursday, Jan. 12.
The incidents were reported to authorities as well as the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties and the Pinellas County Board of Rabbis.
In an email to congregants, Rabbi Daniel Treiser of Temple B’nai Israel said the temple was first alerted by Rabbi Levi Hodakov of Chabad of Clearwater that someone had written Nazi symbols on the sidewalk near his center on Belleair Road.
“Immediately the staff went outside and discovered that we too had Nazi symbols and anti-Semitic German phrases on our sidewalk and driveway,” Rabbi Treiser said. “These were written in chalk, and in no way caused permanent damage.”
Rabbi Treiser said he later learned that similar markings were left at Congregation Beth Shalom. Both Temple B’nai Israel and Beth Shalom are located on Belcher Road.
“This incident is most likely nothing more than simple vandalism,” Rabbi Treiser wrote. “It was easily removed, took place on public sidewalks, and has little impact upon us. Nevertheless, it is an important reminder that we must be vigilant in our own self-protection as well as giving bigotry no sanction (to paraphrase President Washington).”
Rabbi Hodakov agreed that the community cannot – and will not – give in to these despicable individuals.
“I guess that after we produced so much light and goodness over Hanukkah, some people are trying to bring darkness and evil into our area.” Rabbi Hodakov said. “Their efforts will not succeed because light is much more powerful than darkness, and we will work even harder to brighten our community. My grandparents came to the U.S. to escape the horrors of Europe and we cannot be threatened or discouraged.”