Mezuzah Burnings Probed as Possible Hate Crime: Sources

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    Police are investigating a possible hate crime in Brooklyn where mezuzahs were burned off the doorframes of at least a dozen apartments inside a public housing building, according to law enforcement sources. Ida Siegal reports.

    Police are investigating a possible hate crime in Brooklyn where mezuzahs were burned off the doorframes of at least a dozen apartments inside a public housing building, according to law enforcement sources. 

    Police received the call at 85 Taylor St. in Williamsburg Monday afternoon, and hate crime investigators joined officers at the scene. They are reviewing security video as part of the probe. 

    "The mezuzahs appear to have been burned with either a lighter or perhaps a lighter with accelerant, or some type of blowtorch," said City Councilman Stephen Levin. "They were severely burned." 

    A mezuzah is an object inscribed with Hebrew verses that is affixed to doorways outside Jewish homes. 

    "You can't retire for the night unless you have a mezuzah on your door, and if it's been desecrated like this, a religious family can't actually go to bed at night," said Levin. 

    Some residents said there has been some tension between the religious Jewish community and the black and Hispanic residents in the Williamsburg building. 

    "I could see nobody respects the others," said resident Pessie Gelb. "We're living in a world where we have to respect the other." 

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