LOCAL NEWS

Swastika Scratched Into SLC Synagogue Window

May 16, 2021, 5:46 PM | Updated: May 17, 2021, 1:03 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Police have opened an investigation into a hate crime after a synagogue in Salt Lake City was defaced by a swastika.

Officials said the vandalism happened around 2:15 a.m. Sunday and has many people in the Jewish community on edge.

The swastika was etched into the glass door of the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah near 1700 South and 1100 East.

Police said a man walked onto the property, took out a razor from his pocket and scratched the swastika into the front door. He then took a minute to examine his work and walked off.

“It was chilling to watch the video. This was pretty deliberate act,” said Rabbi Avermi Zippel. “I think whoever did this was in full control of their faculties and knew precisely what they were doing.”

Rabbi Zippel said he wasn’t surprised to see the hurtful act, but he was hurt.

“A swastika is not a political statement. A swastika is an image of hate,” he said. “A swastika represents one thing and one thing only, and that is death to the Jews.”

Chabad of Utah and other synagogues and Jewish organizations in town actually got an email from the FBI on Friday.

It told them to be on heightened alert, keep their guard up and consider extra patrols during services.

Rabbi Zippel said he realized there are passionate opinions on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but this isn’t the way to go about expressing them.

“If someone wants to come over here to our building and deface it and put some graffiti up on the walls, that’s hurtful,” said Zippel. “To put something like that, scratch it into the front window of a synagogue, that is hateful, despicable and cowardly in every sense of the word.”

He said while many people in the Jewish community were shaken up by the vandalism, no one believes it’s representative of the sentiments or feelings of the city or state.

“Our attitude is one that we will always rise above hatred,” said Zippel. “We will never give it the space and the attention that it demands and that it wants, and we will live to fight another day and we will bring light to a world that so much needs it.”

The mayors of Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County both condemned the act on Twitter, saying they stand with the Jewish community.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney also weighed in on the vandalism.

“By extending his hand of fellowship to a Rabbi and synagogue, our first president marked the way to be taken by all Americans. Those who commit acts of vandalism against Jews or their places of worship in Salt Lake City or anywhere else only disgrace their own souls,” he wrote in a tweet.

Salt Lake City Police said they have some surveillance video but they are not releasing it because the quality is not clear enough to give a description or identify with certainty if the suspect is male or female.

However, they told KSL the video shows the person walked onto the property, took out a razor from his or her pocket and scratched the swastika into the front door. That person then took a minute to examine the work and walked off.

“Tensions are high in the world with what’s going on in the middle east, and so we don’t know if that is the motivating factor here but we want to make sure that community feels safe and they can come and worship at their community center and do the things they would normally do and feel safe to do that,” said Sgt. Keith Horrocks with the Salt Lake City Police Department.

Police have asked for the public’s help, hoping there is some better quality surveillance video from a business or home in the area that will help them identify this individual.

If you have any information please contact the Salt Lake City Police Department.

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Swastika Scratched Into SLC Synagogue Window