Crime Watch 8

Reward offered in Carmel synagogue vandalism

CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) -- A $2,500 reward is being offered for information in a case of anti-Semitic vandalism at a Carmel synagogue. 

A Nazi flag and other symbols were found spray-painted Sunday at the Congregation Shaarey Tefilla on 116th Street. Corey Freedman, president of Shaarey Tefilla Congregation, said the vandalism, on a brick wall surrounding the synagogue's dumpster, went on for about three hours: 11 p.m. Saturday to 2 a.m. Sunday.

Members of Congregation Shaarey Tefilla expect hundreds of people to attend a gathering scheduled for Monday night at the synagogue to show support for the Jewish community. Tarps were hung Sunday to cover the swastika, painted on a structure outside the synagogue, to protect the evidence from the rain for investigators. 

"This act will not define us. We will continue the Jewish principles of treating people the way we want to be treated," congregation member Sandra Zeckel said. 

Carmel police said they were reviewing security video of the vandalism; the department was not releasing the video to the public.  

The FBI and state police also offered their assistance. 

David Sklar, assistant director of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, said the JCRC teamed with the Anti-Defamation League to offer a $2,500 dollar reward. 

"These types of incidents, we know, are just around the corner at all times," Sklar said. 

Hate crimes in Indiana can be prosecuted federally, but there is no state law against hate crimes specifically. Sklar is calling on lawmakers to change that. 

"Having a statute on the books is something we can do to say, 'We are not going to tolerate these things when they happen,'" Sklar said. 

Zeckel, whose mother-in-law survived the Holocaust, said the only thing the vandal accomplished is a display of ignorance. 

"Because they don't know us. They don't know us as people and members of the congregation," Zeckel said. 

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard released a statement Sunday saying, in part, "This kind of hatred has no place in Carmel." The mayor did not respond to our request for an interview Monday. 

Gov. Eric Holcomb, Vice President Mike Pence and other legislators released statements condemning the vandalism. 

Carmel police did not respond to News 8's phone calls Monday. 


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