Vandalism to Waterloo Synagogue investigated as hate crime - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Vandalism to Waterloo Synagogue investigated as hate crime

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Police are investigating a possible hate crime against a local religious community.

The vandals defaced the Sons of Jacob Synagogue in Waterloo, Tuesday evening. Painting "Jesus Saves" and two crosses on the building.

 Both Christian symbols that are not shared with the Jewish faith.

 Leaders in the Jewish community are understandably upset by what they call a clear disrespect of their beliefs.

 "Jesus saves" is a phrase that, in many cases, wouldn't offend most people, but it becomes offensive when the phrase is spray painted on a Jewish Synagogue.

"It is interesting. People are upset. They are very upset. At the same time, as Jews, we know it could have been so much worse. They could have painted swastikas on our building; they didn't," said Sons of Jacob Synagogue Leader Erin Maidan. 

Although not vicious, Police say the graffiti does classify as a hate crime.

"A hate crime, yes, because the subtext of this is 'we are going to burn in hell for your beliefs.' That is very much targeted to us as Jews, not just anybody, it is very specific," said Maidan.

 But the vandals didn't just hit the synagogue. Other graffiti found at the corner of Kimball Avenue and Carolina Avenue, where a purple cross marks the back of a stop sign.

"We have to discover what was your intent. . . it appears to be juvenile delinquent type behavior, I could be wrong," said Waterloo Police Chief Dan Trelka.

 Whether it was teenagers or Christian radicals, Jewish leaders hopes it reminds people to be tolerant.  

 "This is how they are taught, how they grew up, their experience in life, they have their own set of belief and you can share them that is fine. You do not coerce. You do not indoctrinate," said Sons of Jacob Synagogue Rabbi Emeritus Stanley Rosenbaum.

 The Jewish leaders say the interfaith community in the Cedar Valley has really come together in support of the synagogue.

 If you have any information on the vandalism, please call the Waterloo Crime Stoppers 855-300-8477.

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