UPDATE June 30, 2023: 23-year-old Nathan Weeden of Houghton is being indicted for painting swastikas and other symbols associated with The Base, a multi-state, white supremacist group, on Temple Jacob in Hancock.
According to the indictment, in September 2019, Weeden, and co-conspirators Richard Tobin, and Yousef Barasneh — all members of The Base, a multi-state, white supremacist organization — used an encrypted messaging platform to discuss vandalizing property associated with African Americans and Jewish Americans.
Weeden and his co-conspirators dubbed their plan, “Operation Kristallnacht,” which in German means “Night of Broken Glass” and is in reference to the events that took place on November 9th and 10th of 1938 in which Nazis murdered Jewish people and burned and destroyed their homes, synagogues, schools, and places of business; more here.
Officials said graffiti that included Nazi symbols was found spraypainted on a synagogue in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. David Holden, president of Temple Jacob in Hancock, said the graffiti was discovered Saturday by someone who noticed the vandalism and called police.
The Daily Mining Gazette reported swastikas were spraypainted on the synagogue, as well as the symbol of the SS, a Nazi paramilitary organization. Holden said nothing was damaged inside the synagogue. Police are investigating. The vandalism was noticed on the same day as the annual Parade of Nations, a community-wide event that includes a parade and a multicultural festival.
In a statement, Bucky Beach, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Houghton, noted the irony of the act occurring just before the annual Parade of Nations. Beach had been at the parade with Keweenaw Faiths United, an interfaith group that came out of discussions including members of Temple Jacob. The group formed in response to a series of bombings this year against Muslim and Jewish congregations.
“[W]hen a community makes a statement to celebrate diversity, and that we of faith are here for all people – especially those who are vulnerable, it also makes sense that those who view the world through a different lens will also express themselves in an intentional act protesting that which is being affirmed,” he said.
Susan Burack, past president of Temple Jacob, could only recall a handful of anti-Semitic acts locally over the years. They included hanging a Nazi flag from the railing of the synagogue and vandalism in the Jewish section of the Portage Township cemetery.
She referenced Ida Blum, a schoolteacher for four decades in Calumet, who said she’d never experienced anti-Semitism in the Copper Country.
“I don’t think it’s a reflection of the community,” Burack said. “We are very humbled and gratified by the reaction of people here, who have reached out to tell us how upset they are about this.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Hancock Police Department at 482-3102.