Young Israel of Century City (YICC) is reeling from a May 28 incident involving an unidentified individual throwing a cinderblock at its synagogue’s window.
The incident occurred around 1 a.m. on May 28, according to a YICC representative.
Security camera footage captured an individual throwing the object at the synagogue—located at Pico boulevard and Rexford drive—but the synagogue’s leadership was not able to identify the person.
The object did not cause any damage to the synagogue window because the windows are shatterproof.
The individual also threw an object at Pat’s Restaurant, located one block away at Pico and Glenville drive. On Friday, one of the windows of the kosher restaurant was boarded up. Pat’s Restaurant is currently closed, with the restaurant operating in a parking lot across the street due to the pandemic.
On Friday, a few hours before Shabbat, YICC held a press conference at the synagogue with YICC Rabbi Elazar Muskin and Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Marvin Hier, among others, attending.
The synagogue’s leadership believe the incident, which occurred amidst a spike in hate incidents targeting Jews across the country, was a hate crime.
According to the YICC spokesperson, the individual targeted Pat’s first, then went westbound down an alley behind YICC before throwing another object at YICC. The individual brought along the cinderblock object, which he threw and bounced off the window, the YICC representative said.
Muskin told the Journal that the cinder block was “a good 10-pound piece of concrete.” He added that it “sure smells” like a hate crime.
“He chose the most well-known kosher restaurant in the city, and he chose a prominent synagogue, and it was premeditated because he was carrying this box with cement. So he knows what he is doing.”
— Rabbi Elazar Muskin
“If you are just interested in vandalism, why not go to another store?” Muskin asked. “He chose the most well-known kosher restaurant in the city, and he chose a prominent synagogue, and it was premeditated because he was carrying this box with cement. So he knows what he is doing.”
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department told the Journal that the matter is currently being investigated and they have no further information at this time.
In a statement to the Journal, City Councilmember Paul Koretz called the vandalism “hateful and aggressive” and “absolutely abhorrent.”
“We must continue to remain vigilant and have situational awareness to keep our communities safe. We will not tolerate any form [of] hate or antisemitism to rip apart the fabric of our society that we have worked so hard to build,” Koretz said.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean and Founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement that Simon Wiesenthal told him in 1977 that he lived in Vienna because “If you’re studying malaria, you have to find out where the mosquitos are. When you’re studying anti-Semitism, you have to live in Vienna where the Nazis are.” Hier believes that if Wiesenthal were alive today, “he would live in the United States of America – that’s where the haters live and anti-Semitism is flourishing. Anti-Semitism has now become America’s greatest hate pandemic and we terribly need to find a vaccine that really reflects America’s human dignity.”
Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal that he commends President Joe Biden for “his very strong statement today against the tsunami of antisemitism” but condemns “with the exception of Paul Koretz, the silence of the City Council of Los Angeles and our other elected political leaders who haven’t said anything. They can’t bring themselves to say the A-word, that this is antisemitism, and that this is the importation of the Hamas war to the streets of LA.”
If Los Angeles elected officials don’t start speaking out and taking on antisemitism, Cooper said, “it signals to the pro-Palestinian thugs and the others that it’s open season on the Jews.”
“There is an epidemic of antisemitism in America today and Los Angeles is among its epicenter,” American Jewish Committee Regional Director Richard Hirschhaut said in a statement. “A cinder block hurled at the window of a synagogue and a brick thrown through the window of a kosher restaurant, captured on video, are irrefutably crimes motivated by hate. We call upon the LAPD to fully investigate these cowardly acts and further elevate its protection of an understandably anxious community. The perpetrators of antisemitic hate crime must know that they cannot act with impunity.”
Muskin said that the synagogue is still planning to hold Shabbat services on May 29. “We are determined to continue. We are not going to let these guys win.”
Ed note: This story has been updated to reflect additional information.