New Brunswick, Highland Park Jewish sites targeted by vandals

New Brunswick, Highland Park Jewish sites targeted by vandals

Vandals targeting Jewish-owned businesses and organizations smashed windows in New Brunswick, including on the Rutgers University campus, and Highland Park.

While no anti-Semitic graffiti was left, the incidents have been turned over for further investigation to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, which is expected to issue a statement on Nov. 30.

On Sunday night, Nov. 27, staff at Rutgers Hillel discovered that some time over the Thanksgiving weekend its window had been broken by a rock.

“At the time, the New Brunswick Police said there was nothing to indicate there was any other motivation other than mischief,” said executive director Andrew Getraer. “However, we believe anyone throwing a rock through Hillel’s window likely knows it’s a Jewish institution.

“Now, given what else has happened [in Highland Park] and here in New Brunswick, we believe there was intent and hope the folks conducting the investigation will be connecting the dots and realizing there may be some connection.”

Businesses along Raritan Avenue in downtown Highland Park that had their windows smashed in the early morning of Nov. 30 were two kosher restaurants, Jerusalem Pizza and Park Place, and two Judaica stores, Trio Gifts and Judaica Gallery; and Jack’s Hardware. Additionally, at about 2 a.m. on Nov. 30, in the Dunkin Donuts on Raritan Avenue, a Rutgers student who was wearing a kipa was confronted by an individual who verbally accosted him with an anti-Semitic rant.

In New Brunswick it was also discovered that windows had been smashed at Rutgers Chabad and at the George Street Co-op, which sells kosher food; windows were broken overnight at Maoz, a kosher restaurant on George Street, on both Monday and Tuesday nights.

“When I got a phone call from a member of my staff, we thought it was a random act until we found out about Highland Park,” Maoz co-owner Larry Goldberg told NJJN. “It’s just so hard to believe this type of thing could happen in this day and age. It’s just so upsetting.”

Rabbi Ed Prince, the mashgiach, or kosher supervisor, at Jerusalem Pizza, said he found the damage when he came in at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning.

“My sense is that nothing was stolen here or anyplace else, so you could assume these are hate crimes,” he said. “You don’t want to jump to any conclusions, but it’s clear they’re all Jewish-owned or -operated. The question is why.

“We’re just grateful no one was hurt and for the amount of support from our non-Jewish customers and passersby who have come in.”

Gerrie Bamira, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County, said, “We are extremely concerned about the safety of the Jewish communities of Highland Park and New Brunswick and urge the authorities to work quickly to apprehend those responsible for these heinous crimes.”

The Anti-Defamation League said it was working closely with local authorities.

“We are appalled by the targeting of Jewish stores and Jewish campus institutions at Rutgers,” said Lawrence Cooper, ADL NJ regional board chair. “These shocking crimes target the entire Jewish community…. We’re confident that the police are doing everything they can to identify and apprehend the perpetrators.”

The Highland Park police issued a statement: “We are currently gathering and reviewing information that may lead us to a suspect. We cannot be more specific because we do not want to jeopardize the investigation.”

The police department also said it was too early to conclude with certainty that the incidents amounted to a hate crime. In adjacent Edison, police also announced they were stepping up patrols at synagogues and Jewish day schools.

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