Teen Apprehended for Antisemitic Graffiti at Monroe Township Synagogue

A 15-year-old juvenile has been apprehended for spray-painting antisemitic graffiti on Congregation Etz Chaim-Monroe Township Jewish Center.

The graffiti was spray-painted in blue on the building and left on a piece of reflective tape on the sidewalk in front of the building. The hateful messages were discovered by police at about 1 a.m. on Nov. 9 while on routine patrol and the tape was taken by them as evidence. The spray-painted messages contained “vulgar language” and referenced Christian ideology. There was also offensive language on the sidewalk tape.

The police department contacted synagogue leadership and the fire department was called and removed as much of the offensive messages as they could from the congregation.

Monroe Township detectives were able to identify and interview the juvenile, whose identity was withheld because of the teen’s age, with the help of local residents and businesses, according to a statement from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

“The vandalism to the Etz Chaim synagogue has deeply affected our entire community,” said Mayor Stephen Dalina in a statement. “At a time when there is such an alarming increase in incidents of antisemitism, law enforcement and prosecutors must take all bias cases very seriously.” He commended Acting Police Chief Griffin Banos and local police for their hard work in tracking down the suspect. The mayor said he could not comment further because of the suspect’s age. Dalina said township officials were appreciative of the community support the synagogue had received, adding, “Our Township will not tolerate actions of bias or hate in Monroe.”

The prosecutor’s office said the youth was not a threat to the local or Jewish communities and it was in the process of reviewing the incident to determine if charges would be filed.

Debra Rubin has had a long career in journalism writing for secular weekly and daily newspapers and Jewish publications. She most recently served as Middlesex/Monmouth bureau chief for the New Jersey Jewish News. She also worked with the media at several nonprofits, including serving as assistant public relations director of HIAS and assistant director of media relations at Yeshiva University.

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