A heartless hooligan ripped open the hearts of congregants attending the Avenue Z Jewish Center on Feb. 5 when he broke inside the house of worship and tossed around a Torah as if it were a frisbee — nearly tearing the cherished parchment in two.
Cops and local civic leaders are now on the hunt for the villainous vandal and are offering $1,000 for his arrest.
Rabbi Eli Greenblatt, the spiritual leader of the 70 families who attend the synagogue between E. Seventh Street and Coney Island Avenue was the first to discover the damaged Torah when he showed up for services that Saturday morning.
“Everything was on the floor,” Greenblatt said, recalling that harrowing scene. “I went into the shul, saw that the ark was open and I said to myself, ‘Someone had stolen the Torahs.’ ”
The Torahs weren’t taken, but something much worse occurred: The vandal, who smashed a stain glass window to get inside and ultimately fled with $200 scooped out of two charity boxes, yanked off the silver crowns which sat atop the scrolls and crushed them with his heel. He then lopped off the wooden handles and hurled the scroll across the synagogue, right through a set of menorah candles.
The Torah, which the synagogue has read from for the last 40 years and may cost $10,000 to repair, was nearly cleaved in half, Greenblatt explained.
“The Torah was completely desecrated,” he said. “At first the cops wanted to make this a simple act of vandalism, but this was obviously a bias crime.”
Councilman Michael Nelson (D–Midwood) agrees. As members of the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force begin its investigation, he’s offering a $1,000 reward for any information that could lead police to the vandal.
“Yet again, the Jewish community has come under attack by gutless individuals who have a complete lack of morals and ethics,” Nelson said, remembering that just two months earlier anti-Semites conducted a hate filled rampage through Washington Cemetery in Bensonhurst, “First, it was the desecration of Jewish gravestones in Washington Cemetery and now this.”
Anyone with information regarding the vandalism at the Avenue Z Jewish Center is encouraged to contact NYPD CrimeStoppers at (800) 577-8477. All calls will be kept confidential.