That is certainly the message that Frank Storch and Israel Bethea were trying to deliver last Friday. Storch felt there may be some tension in the city, so he purchased hundreds of bottles of cold water and he and Bethea took to the streets to distribute it.
“People were so thankful,” said Bethea, who said the team drove up and down Park Heights Avenue and Reisterstown Road on both sides of Northern Parkway. They even boarded a bus at one point, ultimately distributing close to 400 bottles of water.
Bethea, who is an African-American and German Jew, said he thinks there is racism among the Jewish community, but he believes it is largely from misunderstanding. He said we need to step back and stop judging one another to break down the barriers. The water distribution was a first step.
“People were sincerely thankful,” said Bethea. “It was something small we could do to allay some tension. I was glad to be a part of it.”
Police Still Investigating Spate Of Graffiti In Pikesville
Baltimore County Police are investigating a rash of vandalism that occurred at multiple Pikesville locations two weeks ago. Graffiti that included anti-Semitic images, satanic images and sexual images were found at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, Wellwood International School and the Greenspring Shopping Center, police said. Images were also discovered on vehicles, stop signs, sidewalks, parking signs and the side of an apartment.
“One surveillance video recovered shows several young, white male juveniles, approximately 15 years old, who may be connected to these cases,” said Cpl. Cathleen Batton . She told the JT that as of late last week, police had narrowed it down to two likely culprits.
The incidents are being investigated as bias-related crimes, which are motivated by race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation, Batton told the JT. In bias-related crimes, she said, police make a special effort to consult with community leaders.
Toba Rainess, deputy director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, condemned the acts.
“It’s just a terrible thing for the community. It represents the worst elements of our society,” Rainess said. “We, along with our friends of all faiths in our community, believe that we should not stand for this type of action.”
Said Dr. Arthur Abramson, BJC executive director, “My expectation and my hope is that whoever created these acts will be prosecuted — fully prosecuted. No one should be let off with a slap on the wrist.”
Baltimore Hebrew Rabbi Andrew Busch said the building was defaced in three separate locations, including the Hoffberger Chapel. And because the vandalism occurred Friday night, congregants saw the graffiti, which included swastikas, on their way into Saturday morning services.
“We never want it to happen, but it was very upsetting that it happened on Shabbat of all days,” Rabbi Busch said. “I’m hopeful [police] find someone.”
This is the second such incident in the last several years. In 2008, three young Jewish men, one a member of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, were apprehended by Baltimore County Police for spray painting swastikas on the Associated signs in front of Baltimore Hebrew and Beth Tfiloh congregations. There is no indication, said Cpl. Batton, that these perpetrators were Jewish.
Police are encouraging anyone with information about the suspects to contact 410-307-2020.
— David Snyder and Maayan Jaffe
Maayan Jaffe is JT managing editor