Police are investigating vandalism at a large Los Angeles-area synagogue as a possible hate crime, authorities said late Saturday.
Prayer books were torn, scrolls were crumpled, furniture was overturned and relics were smashed inside the Beverly Hills Nessah Synagogue, which serves the area’s large Persian community.
“This cowardly attack hits at the heart of who we are as a community,” Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch said.
Police said they are searching for one man seen on video breaking into the synagogue and ransacking it at around 2 a.m. Saturday morning.
“The suspect damaged several Jewish relics, but fortunately the Synagogue’s main scrolls survived unscathed,” police said in a statement.
“Although police are investigating the crime as a hate crime, the
suspect left no markings or other overt signs of anti-Semitism,” police said.
Photos posted on social media showed smashed glass and other damage to the synagogue.
PHOTOS from inside the synagogue have just emerged. Awful. pic.twitter.com/9jpn0PvDwj
— Siamak Kordestani (@SiaKordestani) December 15, 2019
Damaged Torah scrolls in Nessah Synagogue and Educational and Cultural Center in Beverly Hills indicating clearer and without a doubt the attack was an anti semitic hate crime https://t.co/6ZjqfVC545 pic.twitter.com/BjgjIxBw2m
— Adam Milstein (@AdamMilstein) December 15, 2019
Eric Garcetti, the Jewish mayor of Los Angeles, said he was “shocked and outraged” by the incident.
Shocked and outraged by the vandalism at Nessah Synagogue in the city of Beverly Hills. We will stand together and speak out strongly against any act of hate and intolerance in our community. We're keeping our friends and neighbors in our thoughts as police investigate.
— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) December 14, 2019
The Israeli-American Civic Action Network called for action against anti-Semitism, linking the vandalism to a recent deadly shooting at a Jersey City kosher market that left four dead including two members of the Jewish community.
“Enough is enough, from the East Coast to the West Coast, Jewish
communities are under attack,” said Vered Nisim, ICAN California chairwoman, according to a local NBC affiliate. “Just a few days ago Jews were killed in Jersey City, and now today this vandalism. How many Jews have to die and how many synagogues have to be destroyed before serious action is taken?”