Falmouth Police Investigate Hate Crime at Synagogue
Updated October 13, 6:30pm
Falmouth police continue to investigate an anti-Semitic incident at the Falmouth Jewish Congregation.
An Israeli flag defaced with a swastika and an anti-Jewish message was discovered outside the synagogue’s Community Center, according to Rabbi Elias Lieberman.
The flag was found on Thursday morning, just after the finish of Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day of the year.
Lieberman said the flag was evidently left after ten Wednesday night or early on Thursday morning.
Lieberman said the incident was a call to awareness that hate crimes can happen even within communities we typically regard as safe.
"This is a scary thing for some people," Lieberman said. "We have members of our congregation who are survivors of the Holocaust and a swastika has tremendous impacts when they encounter it directed at them."
He pointed out that the incident raises safety concerns for other Congregation members as well. "There are certainly families with young children who are part of our Congregation who have natural concerns for their children," Lieberman said. "What we're able to do is just say that, as best we can, we will protect our community. That's our primary obligation and responsibility."
Faith leaders from around the Cape have been in touch with Lieberman following the incident.
“Colleagues have reached out and expressed their concern and their desire to be of support in whatever way they can," Lieberman said. He's heard from community members as well. "Through Facebook comments, and directly, a number of people are weighing in and expressing their disappointment, their sadness, their anger, and their commiseration.”
Lieberman said that Falmouth police have increased patrols in the area of the synagogue.
"We're working closely with the police, who've been very attentive," he said. "They've been doing drive-bys. They had a presence Friday evening throughout our Friday evening service. So we’re kind of taking it a step at a time."
In addition to the swastika, the flag was spraypainted with the numbers 14-88, a numeric symbol frequently used by white supremacists, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The incident came a day after a shooting attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany, that left 2 people dead.
While acknowledging the incident as deeply distressing, Lieberman also emphasized a wish to keep it in a wider perspective. "It certainly doesn't rise to the level of what some other communities — Jewish communities, and other minority communities — have experienced over the past year, where lethal violence was directed at them. So I think that having a perspective is an important piece of how we react to this kind of an incident."