A $3000 reward is being offered for information leading to the capture of a vandal who smashed the front window of the Chicago Loop Synagogue and affixed swastikas to its front entrance.
The Anti-Defamation League offered $2,500 for anyone who can provide information to police leading the arrest and conviction of the vandal.
“This is a terrible crime that has been committed and this is pretty core to the mission of the ADL to help find the person who did this,” said Jessica Gall, associate regional director for the ADL in Chicago.
“This is blatantly anti-Semitic and beyond comprehension and will not be tolerated,” community activist Raul Montes, who put $500 toward the reward, said Sunday at a news conference held outside the synagogue at 16 S. Clark St. “It’s a hate crime. . . . We need to make an example of this person and have them apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest.”
Police received a call at 12:20 a.m. Saturday for “criminal damage in progress” at the temple at 16 S. Clark St., according to Chicago Police.
Surveillance video shows someone getting out of a dark-colored SUV, possibly a Toyota Highlander, and placing two swastika stickers on the front doors, police said. Then he takes out a metal object and smashes a plate glass window.
The suspect is described as a white male wearing dark clothing and a dark face mask, police said.
Synagogue President Lee Zoldan said there have been no hate crimes directed at the Synagogue since it moved into the Loop location in 1959.
“There was no warning,” Zoldan said. “People have asked me ‘Did you get any signals?’ The answer is no.”
“I was in shock,” Zoldan said of the 1 a.m. phone call informing her of the incident. “I must say the Chicago Police were wonderful, prompt and courteous.”
Investigators told her that four digits on the vandals getaway car license plate were clearly visible.
Does she think the political climate played a role in the vandalism? “I can’t speculate,” Zoldan said.
Construction workers at a job site across the street saw the crime and called police. The outpouring of love has been amazing, she said.
“People left flowers, brought food, offered to clean up . . . this was one act of violence, and there were probably 100 acts of kindness to compensate,” she said.
Zoldan said The Jewish Federation of Greater Chicago is holding a rally against hate at the Synagogue at noon Wednesday.
Franklin Sabes, a member of the synagogue, said a woman placed several vases of white flowers near the smashed window hours after the vandalism occurred. Congregants also were flooded with notes and phone calls expressing support, and morning and afternoon services were packed with congregants Saturday, he said.
“It was nasty, what happened was not good,” Sabes said. “But out of this there should be growth and positivity, and there is, people come together — and put it behind us. It’s a slap in the face. OK. Goodbye. Now we’ll get on with life.”
Rabbi Avraham Kagan, of Chabad of River North, was on hand Sunday to offer support. “In the Jewish tradition we don’t combat darkness with darkness, we combat darkness with light,” Kagan said.
The American Jewish Committee’s Chicago office condemned the attack, saying the incident comes amid a rise in incidents of anti-Semitism across the country.
“The Chicago Jewish community will not be intimidated by anti-Semitic attacks on a house of worship,” AJC Chicago Director Amy Stoken said. “The right of all religious groups to practice their faith without fear is a fundamental American value. Chicagoans must speak together clearly that the hatred behind this destructive behavior will never be accepted.”
Cardinal Blase Cupich tweeted in support of the synagogue, saying, ‘Hate will not prevail.”
No one was in custody on Sunday.