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Washington Synagogue Sullied with Anti-Israel Vandalism

The FBI is investigating after a Mercer Island synagogue was vandalized with anti-Israel and antisemitic graffiti overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday, according to the Mercer Island Police Department.

When synagogue members arrived at Herzl-Ner Tamid Synagogue Wednesday morning, they discovered spray paint covering large portions of the place of worship, the city of Mercer Island told KOMO News in an email.

The MIPD said officers responded to the scene and the FBI is now leading the investigation.

The desecration of the synagogue comes after suspicious pieces of mail were sent to two Mercer Island Jewish organizations earlier this week. The greater Seattle area has now had at least six incidents involving suspicious packages in the past month.

“Jews in America have grown accustomed to unfortunately all sorts of circumstances becoming normalized, that we never thought would be normalized in America,” said synagogue member Randy Kessler.

Another synagogue member, Ben Eidelson, posted a video on X showing the graffiti.

“What does this accomplish?” Eidelson wrote.

Herzl-Ner Tamid broke the news to its congregation in a Facebook post Wednesday.

“With a heavy heart, we share that our beloved synagogue was vandalized with graffiti overnight,” the synagogue wrote. “Despite this adversity, our commitment to leading fulfilled, connected Jewish lives remains steadfast.”

“As reiterated in a statement last month from Mayor Nice and Deputy Mayor Rosenbaum, Mercer Island stands in strong and unequivocal support of our Jewish neighbors and against hatred, prejudice, and violence in all its forms,” said the city in the email.

“Hate crimes are wrong and attacks on houses of worship in our own backyard, like the desecration of Herzl-Ner Tamid, are particularly craven and alarming,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. “We must reject these vandals that seek to exacerbate hostilities.”

Synagogue members hope to return to normalcy, with Hanukkah beginning the evening of Dec. 7.

The city said both the MIPD and the city treat targeted harassment very seriously and also asked to give the synagogue and its members privacy at this time.