It is the morning after the Beth Israel Synagogue in Los Angeles’ largely Jewish Fairfax district was vandalized Saturday night with graffiti that read “Free Palestine,” and “F- Israel.”
After Editor-in-Chief Lisa Daftari broke the story Saturday night on social media with a photograph of the graffitied building, prompting thousands of posts and comments condemning the vandalism, The Foreign Desk traveled to the synagogue Sunday morning to meet individuals scrubbing down the graffiti.
“I showed up this morning to clean off the shul (synagogue) and saw my cousin was already here doing the same,” said Judy Friedman, who said her great grandfather was the founding rabbi and her grandfather was the president of the congregation “for decades.”
“It’s just been our family’s synagogue, and I’m sad. I’m sad for our city. Just so sad for our city,” Friedman, who said she was alerted to the vandalism the night before by a text from the police department.
Ironically, breaking of glass and vandalism is all too familiar to the synagogue’s congregants, who are mainly Holocaust survivors and their families. Friedman tells The Foreign Desk that the congregation was founded by survivors.
“I don’t know what to say. Most people are not this. The overwhelming majority of police are not this and the overwhelming majority of protesters are not this. I don’t want this to define us,” Friedman, who is active in the progressive non-profit Zioness organization, said.
In response to some who questioned why the announcement board in the photograph was still about the holiday of ‘Purim’ which took place in March, Friedman confirmed that the synagogue had not been operating for a while, both because of COVID-19 and because they may now use the building for other purposes.
“ I feel sorry for the kids who started the peaceful rally and now might be afraid,” Friedman said. “This is not how it was supposed to be.”
The graffiti comes as protests consumed Los Angeles Saturday into Saturday night and throughout the country after George Floyd, 46, died in a pin-down by a white Minneapolis police officer, who pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested on Friday and charged with third-degree murder.
In an effort to calm tensions, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a curfew for the city of Los Angeles Saturday night from 8 p.m. until 5:30 a.m. Sunday.