Children of Jacob, a Springfield synagogue, has experienced “thousands” of dollars in vandalism, including smashed windows and damage to exterior signage.
Children of Jacob Rabbi Jeff Friedman told the News-Leader that upon arriving at the synagogue on Tuesday morning, he saw two smashed windows in the synagogue’s teen area. Initially, he thought the damage was caused by local “juvenile delinquents.” An hour or two later, Friedman stepped outside the front of the synagogue and saw that two of the building’s signs were vandalized, too.
Located at 1330 E. Seminole St., Children of Jacob is a Messianic Jewish congregation, a modern movement of Christianity that incorporates elements of Judaism. Friedman said the Springfield congregation is made up of about 50 people.
One of the signs, which previously was fastened to the synagogue’s exterior, had been ripped from the wall and dragged about 100 feet away into the bushes, Friedman said. He also found a wrench beside the sign. The synagogue’s other, larger sign, which is “right along Seminole,” Friedman said, was also damaged. Friedman said he quickly reported the damage to the police. A Springfield Police Department spokesperson confirmed that a report was filed at around 11:12 a.m. Tuesday.
Friedman said the last time he was at the synagogue, before arriving Tuesday, was around 5 p.m. Saturday, following Shabbat, the Jewish day of holiness and rest observed from sunset on Friday to nightfall on Saturday.
Speaking to the News-Leader, Friedman said he was not surprised to find the vandalism at the synagogue, as the congregation has experienced several threats over the past few months.
One of these threats was a physical comment made by a young man, who Friedman said told the congregation that he was going to “kill” them. The synagogue has also experienced some other “minor” vandalism, but nothing comparable to what Friedman came across most recently.
In response to these threats, Friedman said the synagogue has installed mirrors and door peepholes for safety. Friedman also requested extra surveillance from the Springfield Police Department. An armed security person is always at the synagogue when the congregation is present, which Friedman said is common globally.
“I feel pretty much like we’re in a bubble and a safe place to be, much safer than many other places, but it has its problems, too,” Friedman said of Springfield. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re not going to change what we do.”