By ALAN SMASON, Special to the CCJN
Three swastikas and a crossed-out Mogen David were spray painted on Joseph Street in front of Gates of Prayer Cemetery.
While a specific time for the anti-Semitic vandalism is not known, it is believed to have occurred on Friday night or Saturday.
Alerted to the incident this morning, Gates of Prayer officials contacted the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and filed a report. In addition they alerted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to the extent of the graffiti.
According to Rabbi David Gerber, the synagogue’s administrator, Jack Schulman, made an inspection of the cemetery and found no further vandalism or damage.
“The ADL and NOPD believe that there is no specific threat against us or the Jewish community,” wrote the rabbi in an email. “As is often the case with graffiti, these are the works of individuals seeking attention, not the work of neo-Nazis or other hate groups. The fact that the swastikas were spray painted backwards affirms this notion.”
When contacted by the CCJN, ADL South Central Region director Aaron Ahlquist concurred with Rabbi Gerber.
“The use of symbols of hate outside of a Jewish cemetery are unacceptable and offensive,” said Ahlquist. “In this time of deep reflection on the legacy of hate, we condemn the use of antisemitic hate imagery to create fear and division.”
Although the rabbi announced that the graffiti had been painted over by outraged neighbors, the white spray paint was still clearly visible near sundown on Sunday.
“Our congregation continues to be vigilant against acts of hate and antisemitism and we are constantly evaluating and improving our security to ensure the safety of our members,” Rabbi Gerber added.
NOPD officials have vowed to increase patrols in the Uptown area around the cemetery, the JCC and nearby synagogues. In addition, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office has also assured Rabbi Gerber of its deputies’ continued support.