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Vandal Violates Torah Scrolls at New York Synagogue

A Graniteville synagogue suffered a break-in Wednesday night, and police are now on the lookout for a suspect.

The NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information (DCPI) released a photo of an individual sought for questioning in relation to the break-in that occurred Wednesday, July 12, at around 1 a.m. at the Congregation Ohel Abraham synagogue on Amador Street.

Cops described the man, who they say broke in through a side window, as being approximately 5-feet 8-inches to 6 feet tall with a thin build and a light complexion.

He was last seen wearing a short-sleeved, button-down shirt and dark-colored jeans. He fled the synagogue towards South Avenue, according to police.

Lynn Schoen, president of the congregation, and her husband, Michael, were on vacation Saturday, but were able to speak with the Advance/SILive.com about the incident the pair called “disheartening.”

They had not yet been to the synagogue to see what had or had not been taken, but said they had video of the man that showed he “violated” some of the congregation’s four torah scrolls.

The couple also shared video of the break-in showing the suspect crawling through a window on the side of the synagogue. Michael Schoen raised concerns that things could have been worse.

“Everybody’s horrified,” he said. “God forbid somebody’s in the building when this guy comes back…He knew he was attacking a synagogue.”

The break-in follows Mayor Eric Adams’ June announcement about a first-of-its-kind, 37-member Jewish Advisory Council that will discuss issues impacting the city’s Jewish population.

Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, president of the Staten Island Council of Jewish Organizations (COJO), sits on the council, and said the rising rate of hate crimes against Jewish people will be one of the council’s main focuses.

“The most important thing is to never allow an awareness of the situation to be forgotten,” Mirocznik said. “In order to combat crime, in particular hate crimes (and) anti-semitic hate crimes, we have to focus and make certain that there is priority by us and take every effort, whether it’s prevention or whether it’s prosecution.”

There were 78 arrests for antisemitic hate crimes in the five boroughs last year, with seven occurring on Staten Island. Four were in the 121st Precinct and three were in the 120th Precinct, according to NYPD data.

Source: https://www.silive.com/crime-safety/2023/07/graniteville-synagogue-suffers-break-in-congregation-leaders-call-it-disheartening.html