Locals were left appalled after a swastika was found sketched into a park bench near a Jewish center in Coney Island on Thursday.
“The sensitivity that’s related to this type of anti-Semitism is a source of devastating emotional trauma,” said Rabbi Moshe Wiener, the executive director of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island. “This is definitely a source of immense trauma for the populations we’re dealing with.”
A jogger first spotted the hateful symbol scribbled on a bench along the Coney Island Boardwalk near W. 37th Street at 4:15 pm — just steps from the religious institution’s entrance, according to officials.
The organization — located on W. 37th Street between the boardwalk and Surf Avenue — serves the one of largest populations of Holocaust survivors in the city, at about 3,000 survivors per year, according to Weiner.
Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D—Brighton Beach) fiercely condemned the symbol and called for more education about anti-Semitism.
“We must pursue a combination of education in our communities and schools, additional police resources, and aggressive prosecution in order to tackle this hate,” Deutsch said in a statement.
The Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the anti-Semitic graffiti, according to a police spokesperson.
The recent incident is not the first time the hateful symbol has been found near Coney Island over the last year — as swastikas were found scrawled in Brighton Beach Playground in February and at the Brighton Beach Library late last year.
Hate crimes citywide increased 33-percent between January and October compared with the same time frame last year — with crimes targeting the Jewish community rising 63-percent, according to authorities.