An arrest was made in anti-Semitic vandalism at a Miami Beach synagogue — one among a spate of new hate incidents that have struck the Miami area.
Several incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti have been discovered in the area since the weekend, rekindling fears sparked this summer by a visiting rabbi’s murder and vandalism.
Maximo De La Cruz-De Jesus, 43, a homeless man, was arrested and charged Tuesday night with criminal mischief on a place of worship in the scrawling of anti-Semitic graffiti on a banner outside Temple Emanu-El, the oldest Conservative congregation in Miami Beach, according to CBS Miami. The graffiti was discovered earlier in the day.
Police said La Cruz-DeJesus was identified by fingerprints found on the vandalized sign and by an eyewitness.
On Sunday, swastikas were found spray-painted on the walls of Temple Beth Tov-Ahavat Shalom in West Miami. A day earlier, spray-painted swastikas were found on the street near a park and on a wall behind a Publix supermarket in the city of Surfside.
Two weeks ago, a note left in a Temple Emanu-El bathroom called to “Boycott Israel” and defended the Palestinians’ right to fight back against Israeli occupation, CBS Miami reported. Synagogue leaders said they notified the Miami Beach police and law enforcement declared the incident was not serious.
Over the summer, two synagogues in heavily Orthodox North Miami Beach were vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti, as were several cars. Community fears were inflamed when Rabbi Joseph Raksin of Brooklyn, N.Y., was shot and murdered on Aug. 9 in North Miami Beach while walking to synagogue for Sabbath morning services. Police have classified the shooting of Raksin, who was visiting family, a hate crime. The killers remain at large.
The latest series of anti-Semitic vandalism has spread concerns about safety throughout the Miami Jewish community.
“Given these new incidents in conjunction with other recent incidents in Miami-Dade and the upcoming Jewish High Holidays, the Jewish community is understandably shaken and apprehensive,” said Hava Holzhauer, ADL’s Florida Regional director, in a statement.