Rabbi Shaoul Hamaoui’s synagogue, the Persian Hebrew Congregation in suburban Chicago, had never been defaced while he’s served as spiritual leader for more than a decade.
But that changed Sunday afternoon when a window was shattered and surveillance video captured two people, one carrying a stick and another holding a “Freedom for Palestine” sign.
No one was at the synagogue at the time, and police in Skokie, Illinois, said they are investigating the vandalism as a hate crime as the search for its perpetrators goes on.
The incident has jolted Skokie’s Jewish community, which makes up nearly 30 percent of the town’s population, and members of the Illinois Jewish Legislative Caucus condemned it as an “attack” targeting a congregation that is a “visible symbol of Jewish life.”
The incident, however, isn’t an outlier. From New York to Los Angeles, an apparent uptick of antisemitic vandalism and incidents have been reported to police and shared on social media as deadly fighting escalated over the past two weeks in the Gaza Strip between Israelis and Palestinians.