Vandals hit Knoxville Jewish Temple, Synagogue

By: Mike McCarthy Email
By: Mike McCarthy Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knoxville Police and the FBI need your help locating the suspect or suspects who vandalized a Knoxville Jewish Temple and Synagogue.

Temple Beth-El and Heska Amuna Synagogue both found the broken glass Friday afternoon.

Thrown rocks broke several of stained glass windows in Temple Beth-El and vandals attempted to break the windows and Heksa Amuna Synagogue, but the glass was thick enough that the rock only chipped it.

The two sanctuaries sit right down the street from one another along Kingston Pike.

But Rabbi Schwartz says they're the only two places of worship vandals aimed their rocks.

Vandals shattered the glass in Deborah Robert's spiritual home. However, she says they've also, in-part, broken her heart.

"It's disheartening to have that kind of damage done purposefully," Deborah Roberts said just after leaving Friday night's service at Temple Beth-El.

Knoxville Police say whoever cast the stones did it sometime between Tuesday night and Friday Morning. The temple's rabbi said the building was closed for New Years.

"That's very disturbing. We know Knoxville is not that kind of town. We know that in the 50 years that this building has been here, there's never been this kind of vandalism," said Rabbi Beth Schwartz.

Schwartz's Jewish house of worship isn't alone.

"We have a little bit of glass broken out of our window," said Marty Iroff with Heska Amuna Synagogue.

Iroff says he hop it's a random act, someone just going down the street causing problems as opposed to a targeted act.

But Rabbi Schwartz worries the sanctuaries were targeted.

"We were the targets. The Jewish houses of worship were targets....The only damage done to 10 or twelve houses of worship has been the two synagogues" Schwartz said.

Besides the congregation, Knoxville Police also attended Friday night's service.

"It makes me feel better to know they're here and I think it sends a good message to those who would want to do something that it's not easy," Roberts said.

Roberts says the temple where she's grown-up will never be the same.

"Nothing is ever the same. Things change all the time. Sometimes for the better and sometimes not," Roberts said.

This time she says it's not for the better.

Knoxville Police is still investigating. Officers say they've contacted FBI as well. However, that's a precaution in case this becomes a hate crime investigation. That hasn't happened.

If you have any information call the Knoxville Police tip line at 215-7212.


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  • by Anonymous Location: Not Listed on Jan 6, 2009 at 04:26 PM
    You all have got to be kidding, right? Since when did publishing blatant anti-Semitism become so acceptable? You're as bad as the people who threw the rocks (who were almost certainly NOT Jewish).
  • by Joe Location: Richmond on Jan 5, 2009 at 10:14 PM
    There's a 99 percent chance that, like all attacks on Jewish gravestones or the burning or spray-painting of synagogues, that the perpetrators are members of that synagogue. That's just what happens --- and once the culprits are caught, the story is then completely removed from the news cycle ---- it's served its purpose, faulty or not. Such is the case when the Irish run all newspapers, TV and radio news in the US. Those darned Irish.
  • by Sephardi Location: Montemor-o-Novo on Jan 5, 2009 at 12:05 PM
    "We have a little bit of glass broken out of our window" Oh the Horror, the Horror!
  • by jaun Location: dice on Jan 5, 2009 at 12:02 PM
    the actions in israel may have unintended consequences, but given the history of these type of attacks. i'd start my investigation with the congregation. given that the attack in gaza are getting alot of airtime, maybe it's part of their PR for sympathy/approval.
  • by hmmm on Jan 5, 2009 at 10:10 AM
    right on cue -- remember all the acts of anti-semitism that turned out to be hoaxes perpetrated by people who were themselves Jewish?

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