By Cindy Mindell
NEW LONDON – For some weeks now, members of Congregation Beth El in New London have been confronted by a motorcyclist yelling antisemitic epithets as they walk along Ocean Avenue to attend Shabbat services.
Beth El reported the incidents to the New London Police Department, who set up surveillance near the synagogue building. On Saturday, August 1, the alleged perpetrator was apprehended when he returned to verbally harass congregants.
Trevor Blize, 29, was arrested and charged with two counts of breach of peace and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license. Just before his court appearance on Aug. 3, the New London resident was served with another arrest warrant for a third charge of breach of peace.
“The Anti-Defamation League lauds the New London Police Department and Congregation Beth El for their efforts to ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community in Eastern Connecticut,” says Marji Lipshez-Shapiro, interim director of ADL’s Connecticut region. “We should not judge a community as a result of a singular hateful event or bigoted person. Instead, the community should be judged based on the way it responds to that hate. By that measure, we applaud the New London Police Department and Congregation Beth El for making it clear that attempts at antisemitic harassment and intimidation will not be tolerated in Eastern Connecticut.”
According to Lipshez-Shapiro, ADL has been in close contact with Beth El since shortly after the first incident of harassment. The advocacy organization is working with the congregation to help ensure they have the most up-to-date security measures and policies in place to protect their congregants and premises. synagogue leadership had begun this process proactively, prior to any reports of antisemitic harassment.
“This is the second troubling incident at or near a Connecticut synagogue in the last three months,” says Lipshez-Shapiro, referring to the May 12 arrest of two intruders who forced their way into a women’s luncheon hosted by Friends of the Israel Defense Forces at Temple Israel in Westport. “It is encouraging to know that Congregation Beth El prioritizes the safety and security of its congregants and institution, especially with the High Holidays approaching. With the number of violent antisemitic incidents on the rise around the world, there is never a bad time for a Jewish institution to review and enhance its security practices.”
This is the first arrest for Blize on charges of breach of peace. In 2012, he was arrested on weapons and drug charges after a neighbor reported seeing Blize firing a rifle inside his apartment. Police found and seized marijuana plants growing inside Blize’s residence, as well as a .22 rifle and several hundred rounds of ammunition.
In 2010, Blize posted on his Facebook page, “SUCKS TO BE JEWISH…NO CRISTMAS [sic], I AM GLAD I AM NOT TO BE A JEW.”
“We consider incidents of unprovoked harassment based on race, religion, or ethnic background to be an affront not only to our religious community, but to the entire New London community, which has worked consistently over the years to promote tolerance, inclusion, and mutual understanding among people of all faiths,” says Judi Goldberg, vice president of Congregation Beth El. “New London is a great community and we are all offended by this. We are incredibly grateful to the New London police department for their prompt responsiveness and professionalism.”
CAP: Congregation Beth El in New London