04 April 2008
More anti-Semitic graffiti found
BY HEIDI RUCKNOSTAFF WRITER
WILKES-BARRE, P.A. — On the eve of a public display of solidarity in the face of hate, more anti-Semitic graffiti has appeared on a city warehouse building.
A Nazi swastika, accompanied by the words, “Hitler was right,” was painted on a vacant building at Wilkes-Barre Boulevard and Conyngham Avenue, across from the old North fire station.The building, located at 221 Conyngham Ave., is for sale.
The listing agent, NAI Mertz Commercial Real Estate, is asking $1.8 million.One of the principals of NAI Mertz is Carolyn Mertz, a member of the synagogue that was vandalized last weekend.
Members arriving for Saturday services at Congregation Ohav Zedek, 242 S. Franklin St., found their house of worship defaced. Swastikas and hate-filled references to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust were spray painted on the front doors.
Mertz was out of town on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. Her son, Jake, believed his mother’s connection to both incidents was purely coincidental. It was not immediately known if the same people were responsible for both acts, said Wilkes-Barre police Lt. Steve Olshefski.
City police and the FBI were still investigating the incident at the synagogue, and they consider it a hate crime.Olshefski was not aware of the graffiti on the warehouse until a reporter informed him about it. No one told police about the vandalism.
Congregation Ohav Zedek wants members of the community to attend a ceremony at the synagogue today to mark the removal of the graffiti. The event begins at 2 p.m.“We’re hoping that there will be a significant turnout tomorrow to help us to see to the removal of the graffiti,” said attorney Murray Ufberg, a member of Congregation Ohav Zedek.
Ufberg said the entire community is “distressed” about the anti-Semitic vandalism. It is not just a Jewish issue, he said, because hate groups target all types of communities.
The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry is urging anyone who can make it to attend the ceremony, spokeswoman Trish Wilk said. “It is important to send a clear message that the Greater Wilkes-Barre community repudiates this vile act, and that bigotry in any form is something that we will never tolerate,” Wilk said in an e-mail to The Citizens’ Voice.
Bob Kalinowski, staff writer, contributed to this report.
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