IX. The Good News: Communities Respond to Anti-Semitic Hate
Whether directed at individuals, institutions or the general public, anti-Semitic incidents -- like all acts of bigotry -- affect the community at large. Thankfully, in many cases, community leaders, clergy and law enforcement officials came together to speak out against these acts, making it clear that hatred will not be tolerated in their communities.
During the weekend of November 15, 1998, vandals spray-painted two swastikas, each about a yard wide, on the walls of a synagogue in York, Pennsylvania. Knowing that a number of the synagogue's members are Holocaust survivors and would be traumatized by this painful reminder of the past, early Saturday morning the Springetty Township Police Department went into action, going over to the synagogue to cover the hateful graffiti before congregants arrived for Sabbath services at 9:30 A.M. On Sunday morning, a group of neighborhood residents joined members from the synagogue, and a neighboring synagogue, to scrub the graffiti off the building. On Sunday evening, members from both synagogues, a nearby Christian congregation, and a group of concerned citizens held an interfaith prayer rally at the temple that had been attacked over the weekend.
Upon hearing the news that the Ku Klux Klan intended to hold a rally in St. Joseph, Michigan, on Saturday, June 27, 1998, more than 250 people crowded into the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Benton Harbor to hold a Unity Prayer and Hymn Service in protest of the scheduled rally. During the service it was announced that the Klan had decided to cancel the event due to the intense pressure from the ministers of local congregations and their members, as well as local citizen groups, who, in joining forces, made it clear that such expressions of hatred would not be tolerated in their community.
During the weekend of September 19, vandals in Presque Isle, Maine, desecrated a synagogue. Two swastikas were drawn in black marker, and "Burn Jews" was written next to them. In a heartening show of support, a priest from a local Roman Catholic church, a minister and members of a Congregational church, and members of a Unitarian church all attended the Rosh Hashanah celebration at the synagogue and spoke out against the atrocity.