February 26, 2020

West L.A. synagogue found vandalized, being investigated as hate crime

A recent act of vandalism in which the word “Nazi” was spray painted in two places on the exterior walls of Adam Shalom in West Los Angeles is being investigated as a hate crime, according to a police official.

“In order for it to be a crime you have to have a title like, ‘vandalism’ or ‘theft.’ Hate crime is an added charge,” explained Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Det. Robyn Salazar. “The reason is they put an epitaph on a synagogue [and] that was an example of what a hate crime would be.”

The incident occurred on March 9 at the Conservative synagogue, located in the 3000 block of Westwood Boulevard. No arrests had been made as of March 11, said Salazar, a detective in the LAPD Pacific burglary department.

The shul’s custodial staff discovered the vandalism in the morning. The temple responded by notifying the LAPD, the Anti-Defamation League and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles’ Community Security Initiative, according to Adat Shalom Interim Executive Director Janet Schulman .

A congregation of 150 member units, Adat Shalom has since covered the graffiti with plastic tarp. On the day the vandalism was discovered Adat Shalom President Liz Bar-El said she hopes to have it removed as soon as possible.

The synagogue’s rabbinic intern, Nolan Lebovitz, who will become the permanent rabbi in July, condemned the actions of those responsible in strong terms.  

“As a grandchild of four survivors of the Shoah, it is shocking and horrifying to see the word ‘Nazi’ painted on the walls of our beloved Adat Shalom Synagogue.  At the same time, it is a reminder that hate in general, and anti-Semitism in particular, is still a reality — even in West L.A. in 2016,” Lebovitz said in an email. “I am proud to say that the Jewish People is stronger than graffiti, our Torah is more powerful than hate. I invite the entire Jewish community to join with Adat Shalom and live their Judaism proudly in defiance of such hatred.”