A $5,000 reward was announced Friday for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a vandal who spraypainted anti-Semitic vandalism on an Irvine synagogue, just days after the massacre of 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue.
The unidentified vandal scrawled “(Expletive) Jews” on the wall of the Beth Jacob Synagogue, 3900 Michelson Drive. Temple staff discovered it Wednesday morning.
The Anti-Defamation League put up the reward money.
Since news of the vandalism broke, the synagogue has received an outpouring of support, Rabbi Yisroel Ciner said.
“It became a virtual tsunami of human goodness,” Ciner said of the offers of help.
A news conference to announce the reward drew leaders of multiple faiths and governmental offices.
“It’s another example of the community coming together and deciding this is not acceptable and we’ll do whatever we can to fight it,” Irvine Mayor Don Wagner told City News Service.
He said “it wasn’t just a large crowd” that gathered for Friday morning’s announcement, “but an extraordinarily diverse crowd. It was the entire community writ large. They were all there and saying this is not going to be tolerated in Irvine.”
Part of what motivated the outpouring of support was the mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last Saturday, Wagner said.
“Thank God, it was only an attack on a building and not on a human being” in Irvine, the mayor said.
Another recent incident of anti-Semitic vandalism at Irvine Valley College also added to the urgency, Wagner said.
“Frankly, I hope it’s the same person” doing the vandalism, he said.
Rabbi Richard Steinberg of Shir-Ha-Ma’alot synagogue, who is also chairman of the Orange County Human Relations Commission, said the gathering of community members was “very powerful.”
“It really speaks to the ability of a community to come together in times of crisis,” Steinberg said. “It was not just informative, it was very healing.”
Steinberg recalled how in the hours following the Tree of Life attack, he drew about 200 people “from all different faiths” to a candlelight vigil just by spreading the word through social media.
A GoFundMe online campaign has been launched in hopes of raising enough funds to help pay for a full-time security guard for Beth Jacob Synagogue for three years.
As of Friday morning, more than $7,000 had been collected toward the $180,000 goal.
Anyone with information on the suspect was asked to call police at (949) 724-7200. Orange County Crime Stoppers will accept anonymous tips at (855) TIP-OCCS.
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