Chanukah Menorah. Photo credit: Dov Harrington/Wiki Commons
Chanukah Menorah. Photo credit: Dov Harrington/Wiki Commons

Authorities Monday tried to determine who was responsible for smearing feces and rice on the front window near a menorah display at a Santa Monica synagogue just as Hanukkah got underway.

The synagogue had been the target of anti-Jewish incidents in the past.

The discovery of the vandalism at Living Torah Center Chabad, 1130 Wilshire Blvd, was made by Rabbi Boruch Rabinowitz when he arrived early Sunday morning on the first day of Hanukkah.

The vandalism did not include any anti-Semitic messages, but officials at the center Chabad told the Los Angeles Times they suspect the building was targeted for religious reasons.

“This seems kind of intentional,” Assistant Rabbi Dovid Tenenbaum said. “With a religious artifact in the window, we have to assume so.”

Santa Monica police officers came to the location and took a report, but no witnesses have come forward.

“We received a call about the vandalism shortly before 9 a.m. A report was taken and it will be investigated,” Santa Monica police Sgt. Erica Aklufi told City News Service. “Right now we are not classifying it as a hate crime, just as vandalism.”

Aklufi also said police have no suspects at this point and have not yet been able to pinpoint the time the vandalism was committed.

Tenenbaum said the synagogue will soon install video cameras.

The congregation is accustomed to occasional anti-Semitism, Tenenbaum told the newspaper.  During a service about a month ago, Tenenbaum said, a man stood up and shouted “Heil, Hitler,” positioning his arms as if shooting a rifle. He ran away before anyone could catch him.  About a year ago, a letter left in the synagogue’s mailbox contained a swastika and a message: “Get out of here, you Jews.”

The night before, the congregation had celebrated the start of Hanukkah with menorah lighting, latkes and doughnuts at Rabinowitz’s house. Rabinowitz arrived at the synagogue a little before 8 a.m. on Sunday morning to prepare for a service and found the noxious substances on the window.

–City News Service

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