Interfaith Gathering Rebukes Swastika Vandalism

Leaders across different faiths gathered Tuesday to send a message to the vandals scrawling hateful symbols

More than 100 people gathered inside the Temple Beth-El on the final night of Hanukkah Tuesday night to send a message to vandals who have been painting offensive symbols on synagogues and public spaces in the tri-state area.

"In this country, in this world, there is a place for everyone, but there is no place for you," said Daniel Kirsch, an attorney who appeared at the interfaith rebuke Tuesday night.

"This is the festival of lights," said Rabbi Robert Schumeister. "We're hoping it brings some light into the world. A positive in response to a negative."

A week ago, vandals painted a swastika on the Hackensack synagogue's door. That followed a similar incident in Maywood, where swastikas and the words  "Jews did 9-11" were spray-painted on the premises. In New York City, vandals painted swastikas in a Brooklyn elevator and at a Queens library.

"We beg to differ with the perpetrators of this act," said the Rev. Gregory Jackson of Mount Olive Baptist Church.

Jackson said anyone who has experienced bigotry is compelled to speak out.

"Evil is evil," he said. "We need to stand up against evil, wherever it is."

Peggy Niederer of Holy Spirit Lutheran Church in Leonia added, "It just is such an act of hatred, of total disregard for people."

In the end, the congregation president said the gathering was a powerful answer to a vandal's cowardice.

"In times of hate, much more good comes out of it," said Mark Zettler of the Temple El-Beth Congregration.

Police have not announced any arrests in their investigation into the anti-Semitic vandalism.

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