A synagogue in Florida was vandalized on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year holiday, according to media reports. Amid the two-day holiday – which celebrates the creation of the world in the Jewish religion – vandals spray painted Sunday “Free Palestine” across signs and areas of the Chabad of Parkland synagogue in Parkland. The number “12” was also spray painted across the building, which officials said is used as a derogatory term for police.
Rabbi Shuey Biston of the synagogue told Local 10 News that the destruction done to the building was an intentional hate crime. Parkland Mayor Michael Udine told local media that Chabad of Parkland was just one of many synagogues that had been vandalized with hateful language in the city – which is about 25 miles away from Fort Lauderdale and almost 50 miles away from Miami.
No suspects have been reported at this time. The Broward Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crime.
Sheriff Scott Israel and other community members were able to remove the graffiti from the building and front sign.
Synagogues in Florida are just one of the many targets of religiously motivated hate crimes that have happened throughout the United States.
A 2015 FBI report found 47 percent of the 6,727 victims of hate crimes committed in 2014 were racially motivated. Religious and sexual orientation hate crimes both landed second on the list with 18.6 percent of biased incidents. As for the 1,140 hate crimes that were committed toward religious groups, Jews had the highest number of incidents, accounting for 56.8 percent of hate crime targets. Anti-Islamic bias accounted for 16.1 percent of the hate crimes committed in 2014.
Witnesses or anyone with information regarding the damage done to Chabad of Parkland are being asked to call Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.