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Multiple Synagogues, Jewish Businesses Vandalized On The Northwest Side; Person Of Interest Being Questioned

By Marissa Parra and Steven Graves

CHICAGO (CBS)-- Multiple Jewish businesses and synagogues were vandalized on the Northwest Side over the weekend.

Sunday's incidents took place just hours and blocks apart.

Police said around 7 a.m., officers were called to a synagogue at 3635 West Devon Avenue for a man kicking the side of the building, trying to break a window.

Then, around 5 p.m., someone spray painted graffiti on both a synagogue and a cargo container in the 2900 block of West Devon Avenue. A swastika was found spray painted on the side of the building.

Rabbi Levi Notik said residents were packing meals for Holocaust survivors in the neighborhood when they walked out and saw the graffiti. Rabbi Notik said the same man who painted swastikas turned physical and used racial slurs. Police said a man was verbally assaulted during this incident.

"Someone comes into the synagogue and says on his way to services he was jumped outside, it turns out it was connected," he said.

Police said a person was taken into custody for questioning in connection with the second incident.

"It's difficult, but we'll overcome this," Notik said. "We'll get through it as a community. The way that we'll overcome this darkness, this hate, is through love and kindness and positivity."

Police cannot confirm if the two incidents are connected.

According to the Concerned Citizens League, there were two other attacks reported on Saturday. Windows were broken at two Jewish businesses, at 2938 West Devon Ave. and Tel Aviv Bakery at 2944 West Devon Ave.

"I'm angry. This is against Jewish people," Bakery owner Walter Richtman said. "Out of the blue someone smashes a window and puts up swastikas on buildings? It's terrible."

The Concerned Citizens League said another synagogue's windows were broken in the area of Devon and Monticello on Saturday. Officials said these incidents were reported to Chicago police. CBS 2 reached out to police regarding these additional incidents.

Anti-Defamation League Midwest Regional Director David Goldenberg took to Twitter to express his "sadness and anger" over the Chicago attacks over the weekend.

Alderman Debra Silverstein (50th Ward) released the following statement:

"I am very upset to report that there were multiple distressing incidents in our neighborhood this weekend. Public safety is of the utmost importance, and the Chicago Police are closely investigating each case.

Vandalism was discovered at several local Jewish institutions and businesses. The police are still investigating whether the incidents are connected and if they were carried out by the same person or group of people. No official pronouncement has been made on a possible motive, but these have all the hallmarks of hate-based crimes.

These incidents are particularly upsetting as they come mere days after Holocaust Remembrance Day and in light of a worrying increase in antisemitism across the nation.

I want to assure everyone that the City of Chicago stands firmly with the Jewish community. The police are taking these incidents very seriously, as am I and all the City leadership. Hate has no place in this neighborhood, and bigotry will not be tolerated."

According to the Anti-Defamation League, over 2,000 anti-Semetic attacks were reported in 2020, breaking records as their third highest year since they started keeping track.

These incidents come just weeks after a man held four people hostage at a Texas synagogue for 11 hours.

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