An Orthodox Jewish Dallas rabbi was the victim of vandals who defaced his vehicle by spray painting it with the very emblem of hatred — a swastika. The incident happened In the early evening hours of Wednesday, March 11.
“I feel completely violated. As a Jew, the swastika is the most offensive symbol that there is. They didn’t just attack me, they attacked every Jew in the City of Dallas. I am very grateful, however, that the members of Congregation Toras Chaim are banding together to ensure that there is no disruption in our activities,” the synagogue’s Rabbi Yaakov Rich told Breitbart Texas.
Congregation Toras Chaim is a small Orthodox Jewish community that serves 20 families in North Dallas where they meet in a home for private worship.
Last month, Breitbart Texas reported that a Collin County district judge dismissed a lawsuit by the neighborhood home owner’s association that attempted to stop the rabbi’s congregation from worshiping inside the residence.
On Monday, March 2, the City of Dallas turned around and filed a lawsuit against the Congregation Toras Chaim, demanding that they get a certificate of occupancy for the home and make improvements that comply with building, fire, safety and parking codes or face fines of $1,000 per violation per day. The residential property in question sits in the City of Dallas in a portion of the neighboring Collin County.
The act of vandalism came the week after the City of Dallas filed that lawsuit. The timing is a little suspicious, although the rabbi only speculated that he thought the hate-crime may have been perpetrated by a juvenile, one who did not fully understand the heinous connotation behind the swastika historically associated with Adolf Hitler, Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.
Texas is not one of the five states that mandate Holocaust education. Those states are California, New York, New Jersey, Florida and Illinois. However, Texas is one of 24 states that teaches the Holocaust as part of a larger study on genocide in the high school grades.
The incident was disconcerting to the rabbi regardless of whether or not the swastika was spray painted onto his car by a juvenile. Rich feared the possibility of a copy cat crime. “We have to be vigilant about what’s going on,” he told Breitbart Texas.
This is not the first time the congregation has dealt with anti-Semitism. Liberty Institute Senior Counsel Justin Butterfield, who has represented Congregation Toras Chaim in its legal battles to remain at its residential location, previously told CBS DFW that the religious signpost on the door frame of the Jewish house of worship was ripped off.
“They’ve also had people drive in front of the home screaming obscenities at them,” said Butterfield.
“Acts of violence against religious beliefs are being perpetrated around the world. But these acts should never be tolerated in America, which was founded on the principle of religious liberty for all,” said Butterfield who affirmed Liberty Institute’s commitment to stand by Rabbi Rich, his family, and Congregation Toras Chaim until their religious freedom rights are secured and justice is done.
Breitbart Texas reached out to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in Dallas, which serves North Texas and Oklahoma, and attempted to speak to its Regional Director Roberta Clark, who did not return our calls before press time.
The ADL, which was founded in 1913, is the world’s leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry. Although they applauded the condemnation of students in the Oklahoma University in this week’s SAE fraternity racism scandal and recently, they commended the City of Plano for its Equal Rights ordinance, there was no mention of the anti-Semitic hate-crime against the rabbi on their news web page at the time of this report.
For now, the hate-crime appears to have rallied the community and their neighbors together. Rich told Breitbart Texas that residents of many religious faiths and backgrounds have reached out to the congregation since the incident.
He said that someone “very graciously donated a security system” to the synagogue.
The incident has also brought the congregation closer. Rich said that because of concern for his safety congregant’s husbands are walking him home after services.
The rabbi believes that, in the end, this may have the opposite effect of what the individual who defaced his vehicle with a swastika may have intended.
He told Breitbart Texas that on the day after his car was spray painted, Thursday, March 12, he was walking to the synagogue and was stopped by a neighborhood man who was driving down the street. The man rolled down his window and asked, “Do you know the rabbi that worships at that house by Mumford and Meandering Way?” Rich looked at the man and said, “I am that person.”
The rabbi said that the driver’s eyes welled up with tears and then, he began to cry as he told the rabbi, “After everything that your people have gone through and all that you have suffered, this should never have happened and I want you to know from the bottom of my heart I am apologizing on behalf of everybody. This is not indicative of the people of this neighborhood and I am so sorry this happened to you.”
The rabbi was quite touched by the stranger’s heart felt words. He told Breitbart Texas, “This was really special and amazing.”
He added about uplifting moments like, “I feel like it has motivated people not to want to give up.”
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.