Police are looking for three men in connection with the painting of a swastika Wednesday morning on the front doors of the Sutton Place Synagogue on East 51st Street between Second and Third avenues.
“To have your sacred home vandalized was very upsetting, but everyone is safe and we’re grateful for that,” Sutton Place’s rabbi, Rabbi Rachael Ain, told The Jewish Week.
Firefighters passing by noticed the approximately 18-inch-square, light-pink swastika just before 6:30 a.m. They alerted the local police precinct, which called members of the synagogue leadership. As soon as the police investigation was over, the synagogue removed the paint. “It was gone by 8,” Rabbi Ain said.
“I think the congregation was clearly sad and angry by what the swastika represents, but they also felt buoyed by the community, the law enforcement, all religious traditions and the larger Jewish community, as well, coming together to show their support and solidarity,” Rabbi Ain said.
The crime comes as anti-Semitic crimes continue to rise across the country, with anti-Semitic vandalism rising by 36 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period the previous year, according to the ADL.
A plethora of Jewish leaders from the area showed support, either by going to the shul’s Maariv service that evening, which included songs and time for reflection, Rabbi Ain said.
“Dani Dayan [Israel’s consul general in New York] came to prayer service, the regional director of the ADL came to our prayer service, Cardinal Timothy Dolan called one of our members to offer words of support and he sent words to be delivered by one of the bishops at our prayer service. Different representatives of Jewish organizations, JCRC, ADL, AJC, JTS, USCJ — the alphabet soup of Jewish life — came out in support either through phone calls, Facebook posts or by coming to the service themselves,” Rabbi Ain said.
“People of all ages came to the synagogue last night — all ages and backgrounds and not just members of the congregation — to be a part of this communal gathering. It was a show of solidarity,” Rabbi Ain said. “It was very inspiring.”