DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – A Dallas Rabbi says he feels “completely violated” after vandals spray painted a Nazi swastika on his car.
Rabbi Yaakov Rich worships at at Dallas home with a small congregation. Last month, a judge threw out a lawsuit by the neighborhood HOA that tried to stop the group from worshiping inside that home.
This week, the city of Dallas filed a lawsuit demanding improvements be made to the home to meet building codes if the congregation wants to continue its services.
Rich told CBS 11 that because of the pending lawsuit with the city, he did not want to talk on camera without his attorney. But he sent a photo of the swastika and a statement, which read in part, “As a Jew, the swastika is the most offensive symbol that there is. They didn’t just attack me, they attacked every Jew in the City of Dallas. I am very grateful, however, that the members of Congregation Toras Chaim are banding together to ensure that there is no disruption in our activities.”
Rich was able to remove the paint, but neighbors are shocked this kind of vandalism would happen in the first place.
“It’s ridiculous, and I really hope it doesn’t escalate,” said Ilise Kohleriter.
Kohleriter and her husband Kevin were outraged when they saw the photo of the swastika.
“There’s no excuse for doing that to anybody, regardless of their religion, their race, sex or anything like that. That’s just… it’s not the kind of thing we should tolerate,” said Kevin.
Justin Butterfield with the Liberty Institute says the swastika is not the first time the congregation has faced harassment.
“In orthodox Jewish homes, there is a little box on the doorway with a scroll on it with a scripture on it, and in the past, somebody had ripped that off of the doorway. They’ve also had people drive in front of the home screaming obscenities at them,” said Butterfield.
For now, the vandalism appears to have done more to rally some neighbors in support of the congregation.
“The rabbi and his family have been very nice. There’s no reason for that, and it would be even more horrible if it was from someone in our neighborhood,” said Ilise.
Despite the vandalism, the congregation is determined to go on with its regular schedule Wednesday night at the home. CBS 11 reporter Gabriel Roxas saw several members go inside for services that were set to begin at 6 pm.
(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)