WOODLAND HILLS—The Los Angeles Police Department has opened a hate crime investigation after a Jewish synagogue in Woodland Hills was targeted by vandals last week.
Temple Aliyah was targeted sometime last week between Sunday evening and Monday morning. The vandals drew several offensive symbols –including a swastika and a gang name- on a street sign and a guard shack immediately outside the synagogue.
The graffiti was discovered early on Monday, December 11 by temple staff.
“We immediately contacted the LAPD … and before parents and children could arrive for school, our security team inspected the synagogue grounds to ensure the safety of our children,” Temple Aliyah said in a statement. Temple staff also turned over security footage to the LAPD.
Authorities located graffiti that matched similar graffiti that was found at the synagogue in a nearby alley last week. While authorities do not currently have a suspect, Detective Nick Abbinanti indicated to the Los Angeles Daily News that the graffiti in both locations are a close match and may assist with narrowing down the suspect list.
The LAPD has not confirmed whether the vandalism was directly motivated by anti-Semitism or discrimination, but the hate crime investigation remains open.
“Temple Aliyah is our sacred home and this act of vandalism, even if just a teenage prank, is a violation and desecration,” the organization indicated in a statement. “It raises concerns regarding anti-Semitism in our community and for our own safety, in particular, our children.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League, anti-Semitic incidents throughout the United States surged more than a one-third in 2016 and have risen more than 86 percent through the first quarter of 2017