Broward County

Hate messages appear on Hollywood synagogue; ADL speaks out

This censored image shows a vandalized wall of B'nai Sephardim, 3670 Stirling Rd. in Hollywood.
This censored image shows a vandalized wall of B'nai Sephardim, 3670 Stirling Rd. in Hollywood. CBS4

The Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday spoke out after hate messages and cryptic warnings including “I’m watching you,” and “[expletive] Jews” appeared on a Hollywood synagogue as it undergoes construction.

On the same day, Hollywood Police Chief Frank Fernandez said his department takes “any type of hate messages very seriously,” and promised a thorough investigation.

“These are individuals that want to spread hate and there is no place for that in our community,” he said.

The incident happened at B'nai Sephardim, 3670 Stirling Rd., a Sephardic synagogue that serves about 700 families, according to the synagogue’s website.

Fernandez said the offensive paint appeared sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning. The gate was left open overnight because construction crews were working late.

Hava L. Holzhauer, ADL’s Florida regional director, said Wednesday night the vandalism “is damaging to the community. It’s physical damage to a place of worship and it’s also emotional damage.”

Rabbi Leol Benhamu told Miami Herald news partner CBS4 that seeing the spray paint was painful.

“That bring us memories of the past, Holocaust memories and persecution for Jews. I got upset,” Benhamu told the station.

The Hollywood incident joins a string of hate-inspired vandalism. On March 8, a 24-year-old man was arrested after police say he yelled at the son of a rabbi in front of a Miami Beach synagogue in Arabic and then threatened to cut his head off.

In February, hate messages appeared on homes, mailboxes and fences in Miami Gardens. And last year, there were several incidents, including one in September where a swastika and the letters “KKK” appeared on a temporary sign at Temple Emanu-el, the oldest Conservative Jewish congregation in Miami Beach.