The Anti-Defamation League at a news conference Friday announced a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of a vandal who spray-painted a profane anti-Semitic message on a local synagogue.
Someone scrawled a hateful message on the Beth Jacob Congregation of Irvine early Wednesday, around 1:18 a.m. Surveillance footage showed a hooded suspect wearing a surgical mask over their face jumping a fence, writing the message, then stealing a bike and fleeing the scene.
The message was discovered by members of the congregation Wednesday, and was quickly removed.
The act came less than a week after 11 people were murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States.
Despite high tensions, members of the congregation say they are united "in strength."
“But more than the reality of seeing the graffiti is seeing the letters of support that have given us deep hope. So many people care, and we join with them knowing that there is more good than bad in the world,” congregation co-founder Basil Luck said Thursday.
Representatives with the Anti-Defamation League said it is the community's job to make sure this kind of hate is never normalized.
"We've seen what starts as hate speech online, as jokes and stereotypes, escalate to vandalism and to murder. We can not let it normalize and we have to stand together," Peter Levi, Anti-Defamation League Regional Director, said. "Whenever one of is is targeted, all of us are targeted."
Irvine police have stepped up patrols around Jewish establishments. The Beth Jacob Congregation has also increased security.
If you have any information on this incident, contact Irvine police at 949-724-7000.
The investigation is ongoing.