(May 14, 2019 / JNS) The Virginia Jewish community has expressed outrage over anti-Semitic graffiti found throughout the state.
Swastikas and words such as “kill Jews” have appeared in Henrico and in the state capital, Richmond, over recent weeks, on road signs and fences.
The latest incident was discovered on Sunday at Mills Edwin Godwin High School in Henrico. The graffiti there has since been removed.
“The images are hateful, disgusting and have zero place in society,” said Henrico Public Schools spokesperson Andy Jenks. “We condemn these acts in the strongest terms.”
“They’re talking about me, they’re talking about my family, they’re talking about my community,” Temple Beth-El Rabbi Michael Knopf told local ABC affiliate WRIC. “So, it’s impossible to not take that personally.”
School officials met on Sunday with Daniel Staffenberg, CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, to provide information and updates surrounding the case, Jenks told The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“When you see words and symbols like this, you’re immediately nervous or scared or concerned,” Staffenberg told WRIC.
“Whether it was done by kids or adults, it further feeds hate,” Staffenberg, who declined to specify the graffiti, told The Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Words matter.”
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and the Washington, D.C., region of the Anti-Defamation League also spoke out.
“These acts of hate are despicable and, unfortunately, not new,” Kaine told JNS. “We must combat the rise in anti-Semitism and bigotry with unity, love and respect.”
“We have a responsibility to ensure that our schools are no place for hate,” said Doron Ezickson, Washington, D.C. regional director of ADL, in a statement. “The racist and anti-Semitic graffiti discovered on the walls of Godwin High School is incredibly disturbing, and has understandably stoked widespread fear and unease in the school community.”
Ezickson added that the “ADL has been in contact with been in contact with the school and local law enforcement to offer our support and resources.” He applauded “Henrico County school administrators and the Henrico Police Department for promptly investigating and responding to this incident.”