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Synagogue Workers Saw Broken Bottles. Then, 'Puddles of Oil'

Jewish community in Chicago on edge after attempted arson, vandalism incidents
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2019 9:40 AM CDT
This Sunday image taken from video provided by the Chicago Police Department shows a person police say they're seeking to identify who was seen on surveillance video about 12:30am Sunday near Anshe Sholom...   (Chicago Police Department via AP)

(Newser) – All Jewish schools, businesses, and synagogues are getting "special attention" from Chicago police this week after an arson attempt and vandalism at a number of synagogues. Rabbi David Wolkenfeld tells the Chicago Tribune someone tried to set fire early Sunday at the Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Lake View, apparently with Molotov cocktails. Rabbanit Leah Sarna writes in the Atlantic that some worshippers noticed broken bottles when they arrived for services later Sunday but didn't think anything of it; only later did maintenance workers spy the "puddles of oil and charred rags" around the bottles. The building wasn't damaged, and no injuries were reported. Cops are also looking into who smashed car windows outside at least three other area synagogues. Chicago PD rep Anthony Guglielmi tells HuffPost it's not clear if the incidents are hate crimes, or even linked.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post cites Anti-Defamation League stats that note US Jews experienced "near-historic levels of anti-Semitism" last year. "Attacks of this sort are intended to frighten and intimidate us," Wolkenfeld wrote in a Facebook post later Sunday. "We will stand together and support one another." Sarna echoes that determination in the Atlantic, writing, "We will defiantly continue to gather. ... Together we will rise above the fear that the arsonist so desperately hoped to instill in us." Per a police release, the suspect in the Lake View incident is, based on surveillance tape, a male with a light-skinned complexion who was wearing a black hoodie, pants, and shoes and lugging a black bag. Anyone with information can call 312-746-7618 or submit a tip to CPDTIP.com. (Read more anti-Semitism stories.)

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