Swastikas Spray Painted on South Florida Synagogues

Several other vandalism incidents sparking outrage in the Jewish community already inflamed over the recent murder of a rabbi.

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A new spate of anti-Semitic vandalism in the Miami area has rekindled fears already sparked this summer by bigoted graffiti and a shocking murder.

Four incidents of anti-Semitic graffiti have been discovered in various parts of Miami-Dade County over four days. On Saturday, spray-painted swastikas were found on the street near a park and on a wall behind a Publix supermarket in the city of Surfside. On Sunday, more swastikas were found spray-painted on the walls of Temple Beth Tov-Ahavat Shalom in West Miami. And on Tuesday, more anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered on a banner outside Temple Emanu-El in Miami Beach, the oldest Conservative congregation in that city.

Miami police announced Tuesday night that they made an arrest in the vandalism at Temple Emanu-El earlier in the day. Maximo De La Cruz- De Jesus, 43, a homeless man, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief on a place of worship, according to CBS Miami. He was identified by fingerprints found on the vandalized sign and by an eyewitness, police said.

Police are investigating all of the incidents, but have only made the one arrest in connection with Tuesday’s attack.

CBS Miami reported that a note was left in Temple Emanu-El’s bathroom two weeks ago which called to “Boycott Israel” and defended the Palestinians’ right to fight back against Israeli occupation. Synagogue leaders said that they notified the Miami Beach police but that the authorities declared the incident was not serious.

The new outbreak of anti-Semitism stirs concerns that arose over the summer when a pair of synagogues in heavily Orthodox North Miami Beach were vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti, as were several cars. Those fears were inflamed when Rabbi Joseph Raksin was shot and murdered on Aug. 9 in North Miami Beach while walking to synagogue for Shabbat morning services. Police have declared that the shooting was not a hate crime, but the killers remain at large.

This series of crimes has spread concerns about safety throughout the Miami Jewish community.