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Olney synagogue vandalized

Vandals struck a Montgomery County synagogue, spray painting Swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans on the outside walls, parking lot and light posts, according to police and a synagogue member.

The vandalism at B'nai Shalom Synagogue of Olney, in the 18400 block of Burtfield Drive, was discovered early Monday morning, police said. The anti-Semitic phrases, scrawled using black spray paint, included "work will set u free," a reference to a sign that hangs over the Auschwitz concentration camp, and "Death 2 Zionists." The vandals also used German, writing phrases including "Juden raus," which means Jews out and was used by Nazis.

"This is absolutely inappropriate and very, very hateful,” said Montgomery County police spokesman, Cpl. Dan Friz. He said the vandals also tossed change near the front entrance.

Debbie Kovalsky, synagogue president, said the damage is “heart wrenching to see.”
“The fact that someone out there is knowledgeable about this kind of hate, this is more upsetting than some teenager with spray-paint,” Kovalsky said.

Kovalsky said the congregation, which has about 430 families, planned to begin clean-up Monday and to hold a special service.

— Maria Glod

By Maria Glod  |  July 26, 2010; 2:35 PM ET
Categories:  Maria Glod , Montgomery  
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While this vandalism is certainly appalling, is the act of writing a phrase in the German language now to be considered "anti-semitic?"

Posted by: CubsFan | July 26, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Yeah I think the writing in German fact was included to demonstrate that the vandalism was not the work of mindlessly immature teenagers. German writing isn't itself a sign of anti-Semitism, but quoting details from the Holocaust indicates that it vandalism isn't the run-of-the-mill ethnic friction that occurs in the American melting pot.

Posted by: blasmaic | July 26, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

it's ridiculous to see synagogues with "I SUPPORT ISRAEL" signs. they are tax free. they can't be political.
this idiot who wrote this might have been jewish himself. most of the americans who are in the news for hating israel and america are originally jews.

see adam gadan, a jew. there are many more.

this person should have written GAZA.... another version of auschwitz.

Posted by: FiatBooks | July 26, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Specifically, "Arbeit Mach Frei" ("Work Will Set You Free") was inscribed over the gates at Auschwitz, and "Juden Raus!" was what the Nazis called out when they were rounding up Jews. Both of those phrases make my blood run cold. I was not in the "camps" nor was any of my family, but as a Jew, I don't EVER want to see or hear those phrases. Anti-semitism, like racism, is alive and well in America.

Posted by: arlingtonian6 | July 26, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

This vandalism is equal to the lynching of a black person. Although lives were not lost, the knowledge that these hate mongers are walking the same streets as Jewish people is heart wrenching. Are the vandals so insecure that they feel better about not achieving anything in life? Your success is determined by you. We have to stop allowing hate groups to exists in America. If you want to be a Nazi, relocate in a country that accepts your way of thinking. America supports every doctrine, as long as it doesn't infringe on others way of life.

Posted by: skinfreak | July 26, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

About 3 months I attended a trip to Poland and Prague where I got to see the remains of the Holocaust. I wish I was able to describe the conditions Jews were forced to live in merely for their beliefs. The slow and painful deaths of men, women and children showed the beast within the Nazis. However, what appalled me the most out of anything was the neighborhoods in the backs and fronts of concentration camps that had been present during the Holocaust. That is to say that while Jews were abused, starving, and being murdered, people were driving by it, seeing it from the windows of their bedrooms and reading about it in the news and yet nothing was done. What was done to our synagogue brought tears to my eyes not because I fear the Nazi's or fear that being Jewish will affect my safety, but that there are people in my community with so much hatred towards my community. We gathered today as a community and showed that mere words on a building do not affect who we are and what we stand for. I understand that this is a blog and everyone holds the right to their own opinion; but please recognize that when you start criticizing my synagogue for supporting Israel it hurts because Israel seems to be one of the few things that Jews have, and even Israel is not completely safe. Without Israel where would Jews be? Why shouldn't we support Israel?

Posted by: JMKovalsky | July 26, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

ANti-semitism, racism, even sexism all come down to spineless, societal losers who did not succeed at any level in society, so devote their efforts to the mob mentality of lynching a particular group. Profile these individuals and you will see the common thread of dissatisfaction with their own lives and a need to elevate themselves by tearing down another group. You see it with kids bullying kids in school. These bullies are societal losers who grow up to be the anti-Semites, racists, sexists of the world. Complete societal failures.

Posted by: jharlin00 | July 26, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

CubsFan said: "While this vandalism is certainly appalling, is the act of writing a phrase in the German language now to be considered "anti-semitic?""

Would writing death to n*ggers, in any language, on a Black church be racism against Blacks?

Posted by: d_cisle | July 26, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Not to unduly belabor the point, but to CubsFan (and anyone else with the same query): What was written wasn't just "any phrase in German".

First, as arlingtonian6 pointed out, that phrase has a sinister connection to the Nazi persecution of Jews during the Holocaust. And even if one were to put that aside, the simple translation - "Jews out!" means "Jews, get out of this community!" or "We need to get the Jews out of this community!" Either way, extremely offensive - and clearly "hate speech". I hope you understand now.

Posted by: nan_lynn | July 27, 2010 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Why didn't the Post do a full story on this instead of a mere blurb in its local digest? Had no idea this happened until I checked Drudge this morning.

Posted by: nlcaldwell | July 27, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

Posted by: blufre | July 27, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

CubsFan, do you know what "Juden raus" means - "raus" is a contraction of "daraus" or "hieraus" - out of there/here, used where Americans would say "beat it" or "get out." "Amis raus" more or less translates as "Yankee go home" - an anti-American message. #moron.

Posted by: tbrucegodfrey | July 28, 2010 12:28 AM | Report abuse

Even though the writing was in German, I would look closely at the Muslim community.

Posted by: shewholives | July 28, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

@Cubsfan, No, writing something in German is not anti-semitic. But, these people didn't JUST write something in German. They spray painted hateful words on a synagogue. Clearly their intent wasn't to try and teach the German language.

It would be similar to arguing that someone was being patriotic when they spray painted the words to the Star-Spangled Banner across the front of your house? Regardless of the intent, the method of delivery is bound to piss you off and it's certainly wrong.

Posted by: dpwilli | July 29, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in the shadow of this synagogue. This neighborhood is upper middle class of every religion and stripe. This synagogue has been hit by vandals before. I'm surprised that wasn't pointed out in this article because the previous perps were Jews. No charges were filed if my memory serves. I find it odd that they haven't installed security cameras. It's as if they don't want to know who did it.

Posted by: madest | July 29, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

If the post had done a proper story, you would have learned that there were many nazi phrases written in Germany (including Das Reich), swastikas, and numbers known to be the work of a neo-nazi group. So, yes, the German phrases were anti-semitic. This is my synagogue, I should know.

So why did the Post not do a real story? Ike Legget came and spoke that night at our synagogue, he thought it was important. Hmmm.

Posted by: Poster14 | July 29, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

It is appalling and a shameful act to vandalize someone’s place of worship regardless of religion and denomination. Many liberties/opportunities enjoyed especially by minorities and immigrants whether they are Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Black, Asian or Hispanic materialized through efforts of Jews and their early ancestors who raised voice against discrimination along with good hearted Christian fellows.

Posted by: Jim110 | July 30, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

This morning the Post finally wrote a very small letter on the bottom of P.13 about it's lack of coverage. Several TV channels in the area covered this vandalism. I would like the Post to respond to why it barely covered it? Ike Legget told our congreration that HE BELIEVED THIS WAS NOT THE WORK OF KIDS BUT A SOPHISTICATED GROUP. How is this not news worthy? This makes me question how the Post covers Jewish issues in general, including it's reporting on Israel and Gaza, and I will be reconsidering my subscription. JUST READ THE RANTS ABOVE TO SEE WHY THIS IS AN IMPORTANT ISSUE IN OUR SOCIETY! Gaza equated to Auschwitz? How dare they.

Posted by: Poster14 | July 31, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

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