By Samantha Ptashkin
ROCKFORD (WREX) - Jewish community leaders try to interpret five graffiti images found outside doors of the Ohave Sholom Synagogue in Rockford. The Jewish Federation of Greater Rockford President, Sherry Dreyfuss, says she's never seen this type of vandalism on the building. She says it sends a message of ignorance and pure hate.
A swastika, a Star of David with a circle around it, a cross, a racial slur directed toward Jews and one other unidentifiable symbol cover the double doors outside the synagogue. "No one has the right to do this to anyone, to deface property and to use symbols and words that are so offensive. This might be a small double door, but we can't get complacent, it's wrong," Dreyfuss said.
The federation is sending pictures of the graffiti to the Anti-Defamation League in Chicago to find out what some of the images could possibly mean. "My concern is that it might not be just a couple of kids that were drawing the swastika, which is a very common symbol. Our concern is that these symbols might actually have a more extremist component to them," said Jenna Benn, Assistant Director at the Anti-Defamation League of Chicago.
The Anti-Defamation League says anti-Semitic marks have shown up more since the Israel-Gaza conflict last December. Though the sight of the swastika and slurs stir emotion, Dreyfuss says it's important people see the vandalism. "The community needs to be notified that this is happening in their vicinity. It's important it's viewed and pictures are taken, particular organizations are contacted with information and then cleaned up so we don't have to see it again," Dreyfuss said.
Police are investigating the graffiti as a possible hate crime. They haven't identified a suspect. He or she could face possible charges of criminal defacement or a hate crime.