A large swastika was discovered drawn in the snow on Randal Pond off of Geggatt Road in Falmouth on Sunday, January 21.
Caroline R. Inman, a parent of Falmouth High School students, said her daughter received a photo of the swastika from a friend. The friend told Ms. Inman’s daughter that none of the other skaters who were on the pond when she took the picture knew how the drawing got there.
“We surmise that the swastika was approximately 15 feet by 15 feet,” Ms. Inman wrote in an email.
Ms. Inman’s family reported the incident to Rabbi Elias Lieberman of the Falmouth Jewish Congregation, who reported the incident to police.
“We are looking into it and we are in consultation with the district attorney’s office regarding any laws being broken,” Falmouth Police Lieutenant Michael Simoneau wrote in an email to the Enterprise on Tuesday, January 23. “We have a very good working relationship with the Falmouth Jewish Congregation, and we do not have any safety concerns for Jewish residents at this time.”
Lt. Simoneau added that anyone with information about the incident should contact Falmouth police detectives at 774-255-4527.
Ms. Inman’s children brought their concerns to Falmouth High Principal Alan G. Harris out of concern that Falmouth students may have been involved in the incident. Randal Pond is a popular skating spot for Falmouth students, Mr. Harris said.
Mr. Harris said there is currently no evidence that the person who made the drawing is a Falmouth High student. However, he said, the school is investigating the incident fully and he encouraged anyone with information about who may have drawn the swastika to reach out to the school.
Mr. Harris said he and other school staff will be addressing the incident with students and, in particular, the school’s hockey teams, since the drawing was found at a skating spot. He said his staff would be talking to students about being “proactive allies against antisemitism.”
“We deal with every one of these seriously,” Mr. Harris said. “We address it, we talk to our kids, we talk to our teams about the issue.”
Mr. Harris said he is proud of the students who brought the incident to his attention.
Concerned that Falmouth High students may have been involved in the incident, Falmouth Jewish Congregation’s director of lifelong learning Pamela Rothstein and Ms. Inman both reached out to school superintendent Lori S. Duerr.
Rabbi Lieberman said he thought the drawing was done by a young person, more likely in an expression of ignorance than one of anger or hatred.
“I don’t think that this kind of incident points to a threat of our physical wellbeing,” Rabbi Lieberman said.
However, he said, seeing a swastika can be emotional or frightening for a Jewish person. Describing his reaction to learning about the incident, he said, “I guess I would probably use the word ‘dismay.’”
Rabbi Lieberman added that he had gone by Randal Pond a few times himself recently, and each time saw the ice populated by many skaters. He said he was surprised because of how many people there were on the pond that no one knew anything about who had made the drawing, which he suspected was made with a shovel.
Ms. Inman said her family saw a Falmouth police officer near the synagogue and told him about the incident. She said the officer told her it was not vandalism because it was in the snow, but that he would make a note of what happened.
Rabbi Lieberman said he has observed an increase in expressions of antisemitism on Cape Cod over the past year or two, and especially after conflicts between Israel and Palestine escalated.
Rabbi Lieberman encouraged the Falmouth community to be vigilant when it comes to reporting antisemitism.
“We ignore expressions of hatred at our own peril,” he said.
The rabbi noted his congregation does not represent every Jewish person in Falmouth.
Dr. Duerr did not respond to requests for comment.