Feature Stories

Police investigate 7 hate crimes in Newton, Mass.

By Carin M. Smile

(JNS) Police have opened investigations into seven acts of antisemitic hate in the past few weeks in Newton, Mass., a town of 87,000 people.

In one case, someone threw a rock through the window of a Jewish family’s home that posted lawn signs saying “Boston Strong. Israel Strong” and “Bring Them Home.” The family released a statement after the attack in which they vowed that “violence has no place in our community, and we will not give in to bullying and intimidation.”

In another incident, someone used red paint to mar an entire line of lawn posters featuring the faces of Israeli hostages being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The family who placed the signs live on Homer Street, a busy thoroughfare, and belong to Congregation Beth El-Atereth Israel in Newton, 15 minutes west of Boston.

Police said that a vandal also struck four “We Stand with Israel” posters, hitting one home twice.

According to News 7 Boston, Leah Roses reported that someone stole her “We Stand With Israel” flag. She said she felt “more sorrow about the hatred that’s going on around us” and that “we have to be strong, and we do have to speak out.”

Ruthanne Fuller, Newton’s mayor, released a statement calling for the city to “stand together to condemn antisemitism, and acts of hate and violence against anyone.” 

Rabbi Gershon Segal of Congregation Beth El-Atereth Israel noted the approach of Purim on Saturday night and the particular significance of this Shabbat—Shabbat Zachor, the “Sabbath of Remembrance.” He hearkened back to the actions of Mordechai in helping to thwart Haman the Agagite’s plan to kill the Jews of ancient Shushan, Persia.

The lesson, he said, is that “we should never minimize the significance of antisemitic acts … and respond accordingly.”

Is he surprised at the number of incidents of late?

“It’s hard to absorb that there are people today in this area supporting Hamas in one of the most heinous attacks of our time,” he said. “This kind of hate has to be condemned categorically.”

Newton buttresses the town of Brookline, the birthplace of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, also a Jewish philanthropist who launched the multimillion-dollar Blue Square campaign through his Foundation to Combat Antisemitism. That campaign recently sponsored two major television ads—during the Super Bowl in February and the Academy Awards ceremony in March—that brought awareness to growing anti-Jewish sentiment and incidents in the United States.

Both Newton and Brookline are among the largest Jewish communities in the Boston metropolitan area, which includes Israeli-born residents.
PHOTO: Newton, Mass
CAP: Theodore D. Mann Building, Public Library, on Homer Street in Newton, Mass. Credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel via Wikimedia Commons.

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