Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests

Swastikas on Seattle Synagogues — Not What It May Seem?

On Saturday night as Jews initiated the penitential Selichot cycle of prayers leading up to Rosh Hashanah, someone was outside two of the Orthodox synagogues in Seattle’s Seward Park neighborhood, spray-painting swastikas, the word “Nazi,” and “Fourth Riech” (misspelled) on the doors and sidewalks outside. Of course everyone’s very upset here, understandably so, but my wife’s initial reaction on hearing the news may be right: That it was a disgruntled Jewish teenager or some disturbed person from the community itself who did it

The choice of Selichot night, a solemn occasion, struck me as significant. No one outside the community would know it was anything special. So did the misspelling of Reich. Would a real neo-Nazi get that wrong? And painting simply the word “Nazi”? This doesn’t quite add up. The neighborhood around the two shuls is predominantly Jewish and African-American. Somehow I don’t see black youths painting Nazi iconography. In turn, the synagogues are out of the way, not well known in Seattle, geographically isolated, and quite hard to find. An odd choice, all around, for a genuine anti-Semite.
For what it’s worth, my prediction is that if the culprit is found, he will turn out to be Jewish. It reminds me of my own experience growing up. In our Reform Hebrew school class, the boys routinely doodled swastikas and SS insignia on their notebooks. When the befuddled, ineffectual teacher turned his back on us, boys would be jumping up and giving him Nazi salutes. Let’s see if my guess turns out to be right.
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posted September 15, 2009 at 3:58 pm

I’m not even sure which I’d rather hear (or not hear), that it was an anti-semite, or a disgruntled Jew. However, /my/ prediction is that your post will one day end up on a site like Stromfrnot (misspelled on purpose) with the tagline, “See, this kind of behavior among Jews is so prevalent that even Jews like David Klinghoffer come to expect it.”

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posted September 15, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Our Hebrew school teachers were ineffectual too, and we were a (mostly) contemptuous bunch. But there’s a big difference between drawing swastikas in your own book in a rebellious pre-teen kind of way, and defacing property like that–I can’t quite imagine a Jewish kid doing that. Can you–really?

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posted September 16, 2009 at 8:12 am

Well, Leora, I can imagine it, since such an incident happened in my city. A 10th grade girl made up a story about an attack by a skinhead and she painted a swastika by her Jewish school. I think she had some serious issues at home.
Can I imagine this happening often? No. Definitely not enough for me to publish the words, “my prediction is that if the culprit is found, he will turn out to be Jewish.”

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posted September 16, 2009 at 11:55 am

…or maybe the vandal is a LaRouche Democrat with too much time on his/her hands.

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