Vandals in Brooklyn and Queens greeted the Jewish New Year with slashed tires and swastikas in what appeared to be a wave of bias crimes.
Some 35 cars in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, were vandalized on Yom Kippur, while swastikas were painted the previous night at the Queens Jewish Center in Forest Hills and the Reform Temple of Forest Hills. On Tuesday, swastikas were also etched in chalk in front of homes in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn. Last month, Jewish residents of Staten Island reported that eggs were tossed at them on the way to synagogue.
ìItís common that we see a spike in bias crimes around the Jewish holidays,î said Joel Levy, New York regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Levy noted that many of the damaged cars in Crown Heights did not belong to Jews, but speculated that anti-Semitism was the motive because of the timing. "Anytime there is a crime of such magnitude in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, especially during the High Holy Days, our antennae are raised," he said.
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz promised that the culprits would be caught. "Yom Kippur is known as the Day of Atonement, and whoever did this will be atoning for a long time to come," he said.
The Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, which announced a $12,000 reward for information leading to the vandals’ arrest and conviction, praised the police for reacting "fast and with great sensitivity to the community."
Marcia Weinroth, executive director of the Reform Temple of Forest Hills, also lauded the police. "The concern of the 112th Precinct was an immense comfort to us," she said.
Weinroth said a number of security measures had already been implemented and other measures "are ready to take place."