Parkland synagogue defaced during Jewish high holiday

PARKLAND, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida community is reeling after, officials said, someone spray-painted graffiti on a new synagogue during the holiest time of the year in the Jewish faith.

Worshippers who showed up this weekend at the Chabad of Parkland on Loxahatchee Road found the property vandalized with offensive words.

Rabbi Shuey Biston
Rabbi Shuey Biston

“This is highly disturbing, being that it is Rosh Hashana, to know that there are people out there trying to intimidate the Jewish community,” said Rabbi Shuey Biston.

Someone wrote “Free Palestine” on the synagogue’s front sign and spray-painted expletives on the building. “This is the holiest time of the year. This is the Jewish New Year,” said Rabbi Mendy Gudnick, “and so people are thinking about going to synagogue who don’t usually come to pray, and it gives them a little pause.”

A member of the synagogue said this is clearly anti-Semitism. “It is a hate crime. Hopefully, they’ll catch the person,” he said.

Parkland Mayor Michael Udine
Parkland Mayor Michael Udine

Parkland Mayor Michael Udine said hateful graffiti has also popped up in other parts of the city. “We were shocked and sickened by this because the Chabad, they are our neighbors and our friends,” he said.

The number 12 was also spray-painted near some of the graffiti, which references part of an anti law-enforcement slogan, and members of the congregation believe they could have been targeted because they hosted a police appreciation breakfast.

Rabbi Mendy Gudnick
Rabbi Mendy Gudnick

“There seems to be a connection with some anti-police activity,” said Gudnick. “There was also some other graffiti around the city.”

7News cameras captured a cleanup crew washing the derogatory graffiti off the house of worship’s front sign.

Biston said plans for the new synagogue here represent peace and love, and any display of hate will not stand in their way. “My message to the Jewish community is that, whenever we are faced with these acts of terror and violence and intimidation, we should all respond with acts of goodness and kindness and light,” he said.

Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel is a member of this congregation, and officials said he is involved in the investigation.

If you have any information that could help investigators, call Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a $3,000 reward.

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