A vandal painted a red swastika and an anti-Jewish slur on the front door of a Tucson synagogue, prompting a police investigation and revulsion from congregants as well as Gov. Doug Ducey.
The vandalism was reported to police after a congregant at the Chabad on River synagogue spotted it when they arrived early Monday to teach a religion class. Rabbi Ram Bigelman told the Arizona Daily Star that the incident was “deeply disturbing.”
He said the synagogue has been vandalized in the past but has never before been the target of antisemitic graffiti.
Tucson police are asking for help identifying anyone suspicious in the area between Friday and Monday mornings. It’s the second vandalism incident in three weeks at a Tucson synagogue. Police are also investigating a May 19 case where a rock was thrown through a glass window. Police spokesman Sgt. Richard Gradillas said there’s no evidence the rock incident was motivated by bias.
Graham Hoffman, president and CEO of the Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, said the swastika incident has left many Jewish residents on edge at a time when similar incidents are on the rise nationwide.
“There is sadness, and a certain disbelief that this could be happening here,” Hoffman said, and called on Tucson residents of all beliefs to show solidarity with the Jewish community. “The rights to assemble and worship in peace and safety are cornerstones of American democracy.”
Ducey tweeted Tuesday evening that he had spoken with the congregation’s Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin to express his shock and assure him that the state is doing all it can “to make sure the Jewish community and all Arizonans are safe and treated with respect & dignity.”
Reporting by AP