Spokane synagogue vandalized with swastikas, Holocaust memorial damaged
© Spokane Police Department

Police are investigating an act of anti-Semitic graffiti at a Washington state synagogue which included spray-painted swastikas and damage to a Holocaust memorial.

The Spokane Police Department said in a statement that it received a report from the Temple Beth Shalom regarding the vandalism around 9:20 a.m. on Monday. 

Officers found the graffiti along one side of the building, along with damage to a Holocaust memorial.

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Surveillance footage captured an image of a white, male suspect wearing a dark colored jacket, black gloves and a red mask.

The vandalism, police noted, would classify as a hate crime under Washington law.

The synagogue said in a statement that the congregation was “both angered and saddened” by the crime.

“We remain vigilant in the fight to protect everyone’s right to religious freedom and promote tolerance. We will not let these events deter us from living as Jews in our society,” Temple Beth Shalom wrote. “Antisemitism is a strike not against just Jews, but against all who cherish our society for the love and freedoms we have.”

Early Monday morning, February 8, an individual vandalized Temple Beth Shalom with hate symbols. Appropriate...

Posted by Temple Beth Shalom Spokane on Monday, February 8, 2021

The community is fundraising online for cleanup and increased security. It is accepting donations to its Yom Hashoah fund, which aims to provide education about the Holocaust.

“This action is reprehensible. There is no place for hate-mongering in our community,” Police Chief Craig Meidl said in a statement. “SPD takes this crime very seriously and is committed to doing everything possible to arrest the person or persons responsible. We will always stand with those who are the target of hate and bigotry.”

Other religious and political leaders in the city spoke out against the act, including Mayor Nadine Woodward (R).

“Spokane is a community that welcomes different faiths and protects the ability of people to practice those beliefs safely and freely in their places of worship,” she said in a statement. “The symbols and writings are disgusting and desecrate a place of worship and a memorial to those whose lives were lost during a hateful time in world history.” 

This is not the first time that Temple Beth Shalom has been targeted with hate symbols.

In 2014, a swastika was painted on a concrete wall of the synagogue’s enclosed courtyard during a service on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for the Jewish community.