A Sheepshead Bay synagogue was defaced early Wednesday morning with graffiti spelling out “Hitler” scrawled on the side of the wall.
The graffiti was discovered Wednesday morning by Rabbi Asher Altshul, the leader of Congregation Beth Shalom of Kings Bay on Avenue X, as he arrived at work at around 6:30 am.
Councilmember Inna Vernikov, who is Jewish and lives close to the synagogue, said in a video posted on social media that many members of the congregation are elderly Holocaust survivors who are now being forced to see the name of the Nazi leader responsible for the atrocity.
“There are Holocaust survivors who attend this shul,” Vernikov said. “And after the atrocities they have seen during World War II, they now have to come to a synagogue in the United States of America in 2022 and see a Hitler sign on the wall.”
An NYPD spokesperson said that the matter is under investigation but had no further information. Vernikov’s office is facilitating the wall’s cleanup.
The city’s Jewish communities have been on edge amidst an uptick in hate crimes, from offensive graffiti to violent assault, in the five boroughs. The NYPD recorded 149 antisemitic bias incidents in the city in the first six months of this year, compared to 106 in the same time period last year, according to its Hate Crimes Dashboard.
With the last generation of Holocaust survivors in their twilight years, memory of the systematic murder of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany is beginning to fade, allowing hatred to fester. A shocking 2020 study found that nearly a quarter of adults under 40 thought the Holocaust was a myth or exaggerated, while 1 in 8 had simply never heard of it.
Last week, Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill to study whether public schools are complying with state law requiring thorough education on the events of the Holocaust, aiming to combat historical ignorance.
“As New Yorkers, we are united in our solemn commitment to Holocaust survivors: We will never forget,” the governor said in a statement upon signing the bill. “These are individuals who have endured unspeakable tragedy but nonetheless have persevered to build lives of meaning and purpose right here in New York. We owe it to them, their families, and the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust to honor their memories and ensure future generations understand the horrors of this era.”