Parade day marred by act of vandalism
The graffiti was reported about noon Saturday by someone bringing his daughter home from a soccer game, said David Holden, president of Temple Jacob.
“She spotted the writing on the front of the synagogue, then he pulled in to investigate and called the Hancock police,” he said.
Multiple swastikas had been spray-painted on the synagogue, as well as the symbol of the SS, a Nazi paramilitary organization.
After the police contacted Holden, they walked around the building to check for more vandalism. Nothing was harmed inside, Holden said.
The graffiti could have been spray-painted at night sometime over the past week, Holden said. Police had told him it was probably done at night.
It is unclear how many people were involved in the vandalism, Holden said.
Seeing the graffiti was disappointing, Holden said. But he was encouraged by the level of community support afterwards. Four groups came by Saturday afternoon to help them clean the symbols off.
One couple brought a power washer after hearing about it at Sherwin Williams, where a contractor was mixing paint to help the synagogue. Others pitched in while walking or driving by.
“It was wonderful, actually,” he said. “It was really remarkable, what this community’s about.”
In a statement, Bucky Beach, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Houghton, noted the irony of the act occurring just before the annual Parade of Nations. Beach had been at the parade with Keweenaw Faiths United, an interfaith group that came out of discussions including members of Temple Jacob. The group formed in response to a series of bombings this year against Muslim and Jewish congregations.
“[W]hen a community makes a statement to celebrate diversity, and that we of faith are here for all people – especially those who are vulnerable, it also makes sense that those who view the world through a different lens will also express themselves in an intentional act protesting that which is being affirmed,” he said.
Susan Burack, past president of Temple Jacob, could only recall a handful of anti-Semitic acts locally over the years. They included hanging a Nazi flag from the railing of the synagogue and vandalism in the Jewish section of the Portage Township cemetery.
She referenced Ida Blum, a schoolteacher for four decades in Calumet, who said she’d never experienced anti-Semitism in the Copper Country.
“I don’t think it’s a reflection of the community,” Burack said. “We are very humbled and gratified by the reaction of people here, who have reached out to tell us how upset they are about this.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Hancock Police Department at 482-3102.