Photo: Rabbi Rami Bigelman and Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin speak with the media at Chabad on River in Tucson on June 8.
On Monday morning, June 7, as Chabad on River Center’s Director, Rabbi Rami Bigelman, arrived to teach a Torah class, he found a swastika painted on the classroom door with a racial slur. He estimates that the scribbling in red paint was done over the weekend.
Since then, there has been a tremendous outpouring of support from the Jewish community and beyond. Rabbi Yehuda L. Ceitlin, outreach director of Chabad Tucson and associate rabbi of Congregation Young Israel of Tucson says, “We are grateful for the wide condemnation by public officials that (what happened) is not OK.”
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero says her office has confirmed with the Tucson Police Department that the incident is being investigated as a hate crime. She tweeted, “This is an absolutely disgusting display of hate and antisemitism. This will not be tolerated in our diverse and welcoming city. I ask all Tucsonans to join me in standing up and raising awareness on antisemitism in all of its forms.”
The attack comes just weeks after a rock was thrown through a window in the front door of Tucson’s Congregation Chaverim.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey released a statement in a series of three tweets, saying, “I just spoke to Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin in Tucson to express my shock at the despicable and unacceptable act that took place at Chabad on River. I assured him we’re doing all we can to make sure the Jewish community and all Arizonans are safe and treated with respect & dignity. Sadly, this isn’t an isolated event. We see anti-Semitism on the rise around the globe, including in our own state. This is wrong. Arizona stands with the Jewish community and with Israel. The lessons of the Holocaust are clear – racial intolerance and religious bigotry have no place in our society.”
“We’re focused, we’re working, we’re busy renovating our school building,” says Rabbi Ceitlin. “This was something that hurts. But, you know, if you’ve been pinned with a needle, it’s not something that paralyzes you, right? We’re focused on working and growing.”
To donate to help with clean-up costs and security for the future, visit chabadonriver.com.