An overnight spree of anti-Semitic vandalism at three Bronx synagogues has brought an outpouring of outrage at the hate crimes from an ecumenical rainbow of races and religions.
Police, who have branded the spray-painting of swastikas and other hate symbols on three Jewish houses of worship as hate crimes, are reportedly looking into a possible connection to a previous rash involving a convicted neo-Nazi.
Elected officials, clergy and representatives from several denominations and racial groups turned out in force on Friday at the Temple Judea at the Community Center of Israel in Allerton to decry the desecration.
That temple, the Morris Park Hebrew Center and the Pelham Parkway Jewish Center were all hit sometime between Thursday night and Friday morning April 8 with the spray-painted green swastikas and the letters WP and WW – for White Power and White World.
State Sen. Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), who organized the rally, pointed out that coincidentally, Thomas Zibelli, 34, of Morris Park, pleaded guilty in the Bronx and Westchester that same week to recruiting youths to slap swastikas and anti-Semitic stickers on Jewish centers, synagogues and other places in the Bronx and Westchester. Zibelli is a member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance.
Zibelli, who has Iron Crosses tattooed on his chest and ankle, entered the guilty pleas to escape jail time, and will likely be sentenced to probation and mandatory “ethnic sensitivity classes.”
Klein questioned whether one of Zibelli’s “disciples” might be involved in the new incidents, while a police source said investigators are “looking at Zibelli real hard.”
Calls to Zibelli’s attorney were not returned.
“No religion should ever be attacked by bigots,” declared Klein (D-North Bronx, Westchester). “Our community is a place where people of many religions live and work together, so we value respect and dignity, and we live by those values every day.”
Among those also attending Friday’s rally were Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx,Westchester); Rev. Donald Dwyer, Catholic vicar of the East Bronx; Ariella Saperstein of the Anti-Defamation League; Bishop Angelo Rosario of Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrio’n’s clergy task force; Pastor Paul Sauer of Our Savior Lutheran Church, as well as representatives from the Bronx chapter of the NAACP and the National Conference on Community and Justice.