Vigil Set to Raise Barrier to Hate

April 19, 2007

Author: Erin Conroy

Source: The Boston Globe

Members of Temple Shalom of Milton and other local congregations -- angered that swastikas were drawn on the temple property last weekend during Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance -- are planning a townwide vigil Sunday to show solidarity in the face of such hate crimes.

"Our message is that this is not acceptable in this community," said Paul Etkind, president of the temple. "This isn't a Jewish community issue, but a town issue. If there's a threat intended toward one of the communities within this town, and if we allow that kind of threat or intent to go unchallenged, then who's next? We don't want a 'who's next.' "

In addition to the solidarity vigil, organized by the Milton Interfaith Clergy Association along with the temple, plans are in the works for more community workshops, forums, and youth programs to promote respect. The town's No Place for Hate committee is instrumental in that effort.

"This act is not only a desecration, it is also a clear threat to our community's sense of safety and security," Rabbi Alfred Benjamin, the spiritual leader of the congregation, said in a statement. "That this happened on the same day the Jewish community observes Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Memorial Day, seems beyond coincidence."

The vandalism was discovered around 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Swastikas, each about a foot long and a foot wide, were drawn with black marker on a plexiglass bulletin board outside the building and on a side door. Police, treating the incident as a hate crime, are investigating, said Chief Paul Nolan.