The Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine today condemned the actions of unknown vandals who painted swastikas on two Bangor synagogues last Friday evening.
“If we have learned anything from the Holocaust, it must be that hate must be taken seriously, and must be strongly opposed in a timely manner,” said Rabbi Hillel Katzir, Director of the Center’s Hate Crimes Response Project. “The famous statement by Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller, that he failed to speak up when others were targeted by the Nazis, and so there was no one left to speak up for him when he was the target, must remain a stark lesson for us all.”
The HHRC’s statement came as a response to swastikas and other graffiti being painted on the stairs and entranceways to the two synagogues, which are across the street from each other on York Street in Bangor. According to an article in the Bangor Daily News, the timing of the vandalism seems to have been narrowed to a brief 20-30 minute period on Friday evening, at the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath. The Jewish community is also in the midst of observing its most holy period, known as the Days of Awe, which began on Sunday evening September 16 with Rosh Hashanah, and will end this coming Wednesday evening with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
“We don’t know at this time, and may never know, if the timing of this vandalism around Jewish religious observances was a factor,” said Rabbi Katzir. He continued, “That, of course, doesn’t matter. Hate is hate, and we are certain that all Mainers of good will condemn this action of a very few, whatever their motivation. Hate is not welcome in Maine. We at the Hate Crimes Response Project are in touch with the leaders of the Jewish community in Bangor, and will support them in any way we can.”