BOCA RATON, FLA. (WSVN) - Members of a predominantly Jewish community in Boca Raton are demanding answers after someone spray-painted a swastika on a car parked outside of a home, sometime Saturday or early Sunday.
The swastika was spray-painted on the driver’s side door of a black Ford Mustang parked on a small grassy area next to a sidewalk, off San Salvador Drive.
“It’s scary. This is intense,” said the mother of the man whose car was vandalized. “My grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and to see this, it might not mean something to a lot of people, but to me, it means a lot.”
The mother, who asked not to be identified or show her face on camera, said the Mustang belongs to her 20-year-old son, who is studying in Israel. 7News cameras captured her spray-painting over the swastika, Monday afternoon.
The symbol may no longer be visible, but the mother said she fears for the safety of her family and community.
“Can I let my kids come out to play anymore?” she asked. “To be honest, because, they’re always outside. The fact that I have to think about that twice now is a real issue because we never had to think about that.”
Young boys living in the community were in shock to see the anti-Semitic symbol in real life, including 11-year-old Abe Lutz and 9-year-old twin brothers, Joseph and Judah.
Even at their young age, they were aware of the strong hatred behind the symbol.
“I got scared. Like, I didn’t know what was going on,” said Abe.
“It’s scary, ’cause I never saw anything like this,” said Judah.
The boys joined a crowd of neighbors who gathered in front of the vandalized vehicle, Sunday. “I am deeply offended by this,” said area resident Eli. “We live in a nice residential community, very peaceful, lively, with children playing and having a good time, and to wake up to this on a Sunday morning is just atrocious.”
The car is parked in a central location in the neighborhood. With the driver’s side door facing the street, the symbol was clearly visible to all residents and those passing by.
Rabbi Yaakov Gibbar, who teaches in the area, said this goes beyond vandalism. “That symbol is a symbol of hatred,” he said. “That symbol is a sign of anti-Semitism, which is virulent and awful, despicable and deplorable.”
Residents said they were astonished this happened in their community. The community is predominantly Orthodox Jewish, and many residents are survivors of the Holocaust. “They thought they were past this already, you know?” said the mother. “Coming to America, being here. They thought they were past this.”
“In this day and age, there is no excuse for that,” said Ayelet May. “Everybody’s well aware that that’s completely unacceptable.”
Teens who live nearby and know the car’s owner were also offended and hurt. “We definitely were upset. This doesn’t make us feel safe,” said David Vishnevsky.
“Growing up, knowing about the Holocaust, how horrible and terrible it was, seeing something like that is very, very disgraceful and very heartbreaking,” said Abraham Adelman.
Community activist Yona Lunger said several concerned residents alerted him about the vehicle. “Lots of phone calls about this. They’re scared, people are scared,” he said. “They’re saying, ‘What is next? What is this about?'”
Area resident Aviva Reich said the act of vandalism is wrong, period. “Jewish or not really isn’t the point,” she said.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is investigating this as a possible hate crime. In addition, residents are searching for surveillance video that may have captured whoever was responsible.
Although police said they have no suspect information at this time, the community is anxiously awaiting news of an arrest.
“I’m looking forward to them finding the person, the culprit that did it,” said the mother.
She said she hopes to see more police patrolling the community. She is now working with neighbors to get more security cameras installed in the area.
If you have any information on this act of vandalism, call Palm Beach Crime Stoppers at 1-800-458-TIPS. Remember, you can always remain anonymous, and you may be eligible for a reward.
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