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Newtown synagogue defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti

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NEWTOWN — Police an officer discovered anti-Semitic graffiti painted on the front and side walls of the Adath Israel Synagogue in Newtown early this morning.

Newtown Police Department say they are working in conjunction with synagogue officials to insure their safety and address their concerns. The town has provided assistance from its Public Works Department to remove the graffiti and repaint the damaged areas of the Synagogue prior to the start of scheduled services.

Chief of Police James Viadero has been in contact with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and they have offered a reward of up to $2500.00 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects responsible.

In a press release, the Newtown Police Department says “As an agency we are extremely disturbed at this act of defacing a house of worship; in particular the meaning and symbolism painted on the walls of the synagogue espouse hatred which is not indicative of this community. This serious hate crime will be given the full attention of this agency, while utilizing other law enforcement resources to determine the identity of those responsible.”

Police say they are enhancing patrols and there will be a police presence during scheduled services.

According to a history posted on the congregation’s website, the community began with the immigration of several Russian Jewish families in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, when “Orthodox immigrants fleeing poverty and persecution in Eastern Europe were encouraged to become farmers in Connecticut.” The cornerstone for a synagogue was laid in 1919; the current synagogue building opened in 2007.

The police department release quoted First Selectman Dan Rosenthal: “This morning I viewed the hateful desecration of Congregation Adath Israel with sadness. The congregants of Adath Israel have contributed to the fabric of this community immeasurably for over 100 years. Newtown has always been a place where people of all religions are welcome and have worked together hand in hand . . . . I look forward to personally asking the courts to offer no leniency when the vile individual is apprehended.”

Anyone with information on this crime is asked to contact the Newtown Police Department at 203-270-4255.

“Once again, many Jews are returning to the news this Saturday night after a Sabbath break, only to find our communal institutions targeted by hateful white supremacists,” said ADL Connecticut Regional Director Steve Ginsburg. “In the wake of violent acts of white supremacist terrorism this year targeting the Jewish, Latino, African-American, Muslim and LGBTQ communities, we must take this vandalism seriously and make sure our communities are safe in the face of hate. We thank the Newtown Police Department for investigating this anti-Semitic vandalism as a hate crime.”

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