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Sign outside Wynnewood synagogue vandalized with antisemitic graffiti

Gov. Josh Shapiro says antisemitic graffiti at Wynnewood synagogue has "no place" in Pennsylvania
Gov. Josh Shapiro says antisemitic graffiti at Wynnewood synagogue has "no place" in Pennsylvania 02:03

WYNNEWOOD, Pa. (CBS) -- A sign posted outside a synagogue in Wynnewood, Montgomery County, was vandalized for the second time in a week.

In a post on Facebook Sunday, Temple Beth Hillel/Beth El leaders said last Friday a sign outside the synagogue that reads "Our Community Stands with Israel" was spray painted. According to the synagogue, police were notified and the sign was replaced.

Then on Saturday night, the synagogue said a red swastika was spray painted on the new sign.

"We do not know who did this. We do know that they wanted us to be afraid. A swastika is not a commentary on the policies of the State of Israel, nor is it a sign of solidarity with Palestinians. It is a symbol of hatred and division," the Facebook post said, which included a photo of the vandalized sign. "We, the leadership of the synagogue, want everyone to know that we will not give in to either fear or division. We are blessed to live in a society in which hate speech is not tolerated by the police, who are working with us to keep us safe. We are blessed to live in a society where our neighbors of other faiths have already reached out to offer support."

Synagogue leaders said they're working with police as they investigate the second instance of vandalism. CBS News Philadelphia has reached out to police in Lower Merion Township for comment.

"A swastika clearly has a deep and painful history for the people in our community, it's a symbol of hatred and death and it's meant to antagonize and cause fear and division," Ethan Witkovsky, the senior rabbi at the Temple Beth Hill/Beth El, said. 

While the sign and vandalism have been removed, Witkovsky said it's important not to forget that incidents like this still happen. He also said he's comforted by the support he and this community have received.

"Quite touching, a number of political leaders in our state in our city have reached out to show support and solidarity," Witkovsky said. 

Witkovsky said while security is always on his mind, his team did not think about canceling services.

"There is much for us to do, today, tomorrow," Witkovsky said at a service on March 23. 

"We are strong and resolute as we have been. We respond with vibrancy of Jewish life, of prayer, of support and unity with the people around us," he added.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, posted about the vandalism on X, writing that Temple Beth Hillel/Beth El is where he was mitzvahed.

Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro wrote on X in part about the vandalism: "Antisemitism and the vandalism of a house of worship of any kind have no place in this Commonwealth. I've spoken to Rabbi Witkovsky and told him we stand with his wonderful congregation and against hate. PSP is coordinating with our law enforcement partners to apprehend the person(s) responsible."

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