Leaders of the United Hebrew Temple in Benton, Illinois are asking the public to provide any information on a recent spate of vandalism against the synagogue.
The synagogue remained closed due to COVID-19 prevention measures, however upon reopening approximately a month ago leaders discovered a vast amount of damage to the property. Local authorities were consequently notified and an investigation was launched to identify the suspect or suspects responsible.
On 9th October further vandalism was found with ten antique stain-glass windows broken, prayerbooks and skullcaps thrown across the floor, and damage to the building’s kitchen. The windows were purposefully made for the synagogue on its construction in 1957 and are irreplaceable.
This is the third act of vandalism in less than a month. Another incident saw two of the windows broken and more than a week earlier there was a further break-in, including the theft of electronic equipment, reported to Benton Police.
The Vice President of United Hebrew Temple said that the local community simply wants to worship “in peace and safety” without fear of potential antisemitism. She added that the organisation is currently exploring ways to protect and preserve the remaining windows, and supporters of the United Hebrew Temple raised nearly $6,000 in under a week to repair the damage to the building.
Benton Police are continuing investigations into the vandalism, however they have released no further information.
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