2012-07-05 / Front Page

Marine Park Jewish Center Defaced

By Sam Akhtar and D. Rybstein

Photo by Sam Akhtar Photo by Sam Akhtar A swastika was found last week on a sidewalk adjacent to Marine Park Jewish Center (MPJC) located at 3311 Avenue S in Marine Park. According to MPJC President David Newman, he discovered the offensive Nazi-era symbol Monday morning June 25th at 10 a.m. while he was walking to the shul’s office. Because of a heavy rainstorm earlier that morning, Newman asked his secretary to come out of her office to confirm what he saw. Even after heavy flooding, the swastika symbol was still clearly recognizable and they immediately contacted police who sent investigators to the hatecrime scene. The perpetrator picked a location on East 34th Street between MPJC’s sanctuary and its school building, just outside a fenced alleyway, to paint the swastika.

The recent vandalism was the latest in a string of anti-Semitic incidents discovered at various locations throughout Borough Park, Kensington, and Williamsburg neighborhoods that have large Jewish populations.

Defaced sidewalk between sanctuary and school (right) Defaced sidewalk between sanctuary and school (right) According to Rabbi Elisha “Rodney” Weiss, spiritual leader of the 120 family congregation, elderly Holocaust survivors who live in the area have approached him and expressed their fears. “This is certainly a terrible thing. It raises questions of security in our neighborhood. People want to be able to walk at night,” he said.

Prior to this latest incident, a non- Jewish neighborhood woman had told the rabbi she was very upset with what was going on referring to the recent spate of hate-crimes. “Unfortunately, I myself am not aware of anyone reaching out to us after this,” said Weiss.

Newman described yet another incident in an exclusive interview with the Courier. “Last year a man was apprehended after he started a fire by the service entrance to our Center on Avenue S. We don’t know if he was trying to burn down the building. In that incident, a fire chief vowed to me that he would catch the arsonist, and he did. I am grateful.”

Reaction to the incident was swift. Sixty-third Precinct Community Affairs Officer, Thomas Podd, said, “We’re going to have a couple of more units in the Marine Park area.”

Assemblyman Alan Maisel, in a prepared statement, said, “Once again, we are confronted with the outrageous behavior of a hate-filled person who has no respect for our community or the tradition of tolerance that makes our country great. I am grateful to the NYC Police Department for quickly responding to this hateful incident and doing everything that they can to find those who were responsible.”

Shea Rubenstein, Executive Vice- President of the Jewish Community Council of Marine Park (JCCMP) said, “My organization and other decent people in our community jointly condemn anti-Semitic attacks that incurred in our neighborhood. The Jewish community in Marine Park has grown over the last seven years. We hope this was an isolated incident perpetrated by just one irresponsible individual.”

Rubenstein was in touch with elected officials and police. He told the Courier that they assured him of an increased police presence in Marine Park.

Security cameras are visible at the Merkaz Yisroel building, part of the MPJC complex, but so far police have not been able to identify or arrest any suspects. The police do not believe this rash of incidents are linked and the investigation is ongoing.

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