Stepped up security at Miami Beach Jewish cemetery, community after vandalism

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - Security has been increased at a Miami Beach cemetery and community after several anti-Semitic attacks have occurred in South Florida.

After swastikas were carved into a parked car in Miami Beach, residents in the area have been unhinged and are now implementing more security cameras to feel safer.

7News met with community activist Yona Lunger at a Jewish cemetery in South Florida that have received multiple phone calls from people wanting to know if their loved ones were safe.

“The community has become more vigilant,” Lunger said. “Most of the cemeteries are fully equipped with cameras and security. They’re stepping up. They’re getting extra funding.”

The extra cameras have been installed to send a message, but also to catch anyone who wants to do harm to the community. Lunger said he’s convinced there’s been an uptick in anti-Semitic inspired crimes.

Jewish cemeteries near St. Louis and in Philadelphia were targeted, and tombstones could be seen toppled over. “I just haven’t had time to cry,” said one man visiting a loved one’s grave.

Jewish community centers and day schools have also received threats and have had bomb threat evacuations across the country, Monday. One of those schools was located in Davie.

“My father is a Holocaust survivor. I just called him up and he’s crying on the phone,” said concerned parent Dr. Jaime Huysman.

The threats that day were not credible, but they have instilled a very real fear.

Over the weekend, a Miami Beach resident’s vehicle was vandalized with swastikas keyed into the paint.

“The whole concept of a swastika goes back to the times of the Holocaust, and it brings up just horrific memories,” said Rabbi Mendy Levy, a neighbor of the vandalism victim.

The victim told 7News that he lost loved ones during the Holocaust. “I did have family that was lost,” he said. “I don’t know. It’s hard to talk about it.”

The same symbol was drawn at an Orthodox temple near Sunny Isles Beach and was sprayed onto a car in Boca Raton.

Lunger said these acts are committed by cowards, but they’re not taking any chances. “The community has put together a very strong team of individuals, such as attorneys, that will follow up once when somebody does get picked up,” he said. “We have private investigators that are helping police departments look into it. People are scared. It’s almost because they’re scared of the unknown.”

Miami Beach Police are following up on leads in the area.

If you have any information on any of these crimes, call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS or Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.

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