Second Jewish congregation hit by anti-Semitic graffiti in San Antonio

By Mark D. Wilson Updated 2:44 pm, Monday, August 17, 2015
san antonio graffiti

Grafitti on the side of a shed Monday August 17, 2015 at Cogregation Agudas Achim on the 16,000 block of Huebner appears to read “Jews Jew.” The area near Congregation Rodfei Sholom on Northwest Military Highway was recently defaced with racist garfitti.

SAN ANTONIO — A second Jewish congregation uncovered anti-Semitic graffiti on its property Monday morning just days after the discovery of swastikas, racial slurs and widespread vandalism rocked a neighboring Jewish community.

Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham said the graffiti was found on a storage shed near the back of the Congregation Agudas Achim property, located at 16550 Huebner Road, less than three miles away from Rodfei Sholom.

Linda Moad, executive director of the Agudas Achim congregation, said a maintenance worker had gone to the shed around 10 a.m. and found two grills missing, along with the words “Jew Jew” sprayed onto the structure.

“I was already disgusted by what happened at Rodfei Sholom last week,” Abraham said. “This hits a little closer to home because it’s at my synagogue. I am just saddened that people would stoop to this level to try to break our community.”

The synagogue, founded in 1889, serves about 550 families on San Antonio’s North Side. Abraham said Agudas Achim is the second-largest congregation in the city, behind Temple Beth-El.

Governor Greg Abbott called the vandalism an “offensive and disturbing attack on people of all faiths” in a Monday statement.

Members of the congregation made the discovery at the same time the San Antonio Police Department, FBI, Crime Stoppers, and local elected officials came together to announce an award of $11,500 for information leading to the Rodfei Sholom vandals.

“We’re very sad that this would happen so soon after the incident at Rodfei Sholom,” said Judy Lackritz, community relations director of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio. “We appreciate that law enforcement are taking it seriously in both cases. We are so heartened at the outpouring of support we have received throughout the city from all different religious groups.”

Funds raised by District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg combined with cash from state Sen. Jose Menendez, the FBI and San Antonio Crime Stoppers pushed the total potential reward up from $5,000.

SAPD interim Chief Anthony Treviño said investigators are working around the clock to track down suspects in the “act of ignorance” at Congregation Rodfei Sholom, located near Northwest Military Drive and Huebner Road.

Last week, the FBI said it had identified a person of interest who lives near the community, but on Monday, in response to a question regarding that individual, police said no arrests have been made and that they are pursuing multiple suspects.

Rabbi Arnold Scheinberg again emphasized the amount of love and support the congregation has received since numerous cars, homes, monuments and signs in his community were plastered with hateful symbols including swastikas and “KKK” lettering.

“Our congregation experienced a hate crime, but our community experienced love and support from every facet of our community,” he said, adding the congregation saw overwhelming attendance on the last Sabbath.
Scheinberg said security at the synagogue has been beefed up, though he said he could not comment on specifics.

“Our citizens feel alert, but safe,” he said. “They feel that they are surrounded by love of this community.”

The San Antonio Police Department confirmed that officers were dispatched to the synagogue Monday morning for a burglary, but declined to release any additional details.

mdwilson@express-news.net
Twitter: @MDWilsonSA