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Former Church Pastor Recorded Drawing Swastika Outside Jewish Mother’s Home

former official from a branch of the United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, California was recorded drawing a swastika on the home of a Jewish mother in December, according to multiple media reports and footage captured of the event.

Leah Grossman, whose home was vandalized, claimed that the pastor had previously called her a “fascist” for displaying an Israeli flag on her property, Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) reported. 

Mark Nakagawa, a neighbor of Grossman, was recorded drawing the swastika onto a delivery left outside the Grossman home with a doorbell camera. 

“I just shattered. I just fell to pieces. I’ve never shook like that before. My toes were shaking,” Grossman told CBS News. “I get emotional thinking about it because it reminds me of all the people I know, my family, my children.

“What’s going on in the world has really opened up a crevasse of antisemitism and I think people feel really emboldened to push Jewish people around. People just shouldn’t get away with this.”

NGO StopAntisemitism reported the story to X.

Grossman confronted Nakagawa, but he initially denied drawing the symbol. However, upon realizing that he had been recorded carrying out the vandalism, he claimed that he intended to teach his neighbor the Buddhist and Hindu symbols for peace.

“Is there a problem?” she asked him during the confrontation before directly asking if that was “a Nazi symbol” on her groceries. Nakagawa responded, “No, I’m just walking by here.”

“What is that? What did you draw there?” she asked again, indicating that she had seen him on her camera.

Nakagawa said “he was trying to educate Grossman about the history of [the swastika] as a Buddhist symbol of love,” and he “did not know how Grossman would react toward the drawing,” according to the local News outlet KCAL.

“The way I went about it, in hindsight, the way I went about it was not the right way to go about it,” said Nakagawa, according to JNS. “It was bad judgment on my part. I realize that.”

Grossman said that Nakagawa had apologized for the incident but that she rejected it. 

“I know in my heart of hearts that it’s completely self-serving, has nothing to do with any kind of contrition as far as what was done to me, what was done to my children,” she said.

The United Methodist Church said it was “saddened” to learn of the incident and “does not condone any form of hatred or discrimination,” according to Fox News. “Our community was saddened to learn over the weekend about an incident in December involving one of our retired clergy and former District Superintendent, Mark Nakagawa. The California-Pacific Annual Conference does not condone any form of hate or discrimination. We are committed to loving our neighbors, fostering an inclusive and respectful environment for all, and nurturing interfaith relationships in our communities.”