Beverly Hills Police on the Hunt for Suspect in Synagogue Desecration
Police in Beverly Hills have released a description of a suspect in the vandalism of a local synagogue, saying they are looking for a white man in his lower 20s with dark curly hair and glasses.
CNN reported that the man carried a backpack and a suitcase while he committed the crime. He was caught on a security camera outside the southern California synagogue.
The vandalization of the Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills, the primary house of worship for local Jews of Persian ancestry, was discovered on Saturday.
Police said, “The suspect disrupted the furnishings, and contents of the synagogue by overturning furniture and distributing brochures and materials throughout the interior.”
Although several religious objects were damaged, the “main scrolls survived unscathed.”
Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch said, “This cowardly attack hits at the heart of who we are as a community. It is not just an attack on the Jewish Community of Beverly Hills; it’s an attack on all of us. The entire city stands in solidarity behind Nessah, its members and congregants.”
“We are committed to catching the criminal who desecrated a holy place on Shabbat of all days and bringing him to justice,” he added. “We are equally committed that our city will continue to be a welcoming place for Jews and for members of all religions and groups.”
Police are treating the incident as a hate crime and also investigating whether the suspect was involved in other acts of vandalism in the area.
Chairman Arthur Stark and Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement on the incident, “We are outraged by the damage done to the Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills. … We stand in solidarity with the Nessah congregation and the entire Jewish community of Los Angeles.”
“While we hope to gain more clarity in the coming days on the nature of this crime, we urge law enforcement to do everything to apprehend the attacker and hope that he will face a heavy penalty,” they added.
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted on Sunday:
These images are truly painful to look at.
Prayer books and Torah scrolls destroyed over the weekend at the Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills.
Our hearts break for the Jewish community while @LA_ADL is on the ground working with law enforcement in support where needed. pic.twitter.com/p37QILDCXD
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) December 15, 2019