South Lake Tahoe community plans gathering to denounce anti-Semitic graffiti
South Shore community members are sending a clear statement following the recent discovery of anti-Semitic graffiti: We will not stand for this.
Rabbi Evon Yakar was made aware of a hateful message underneath the Trout Creek Bridge in South Lake Tahoe on May 30. After confirming its existence, Yakar contacted police to alert them of the vandalism.
The graffiti, which does not appear to be visible from above the bridge, reads “DON’T TRUST JEWS.”
According to Yakar, a similar hate-laden message was spray painted in the same location about one year ago.
Given the recurrent nature of the anti-Semitism, Yakar said he did not want to quietly clean up the area and move on.
Instead, a broad swath of community members plan to gather on the south side of the bridge at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, June 6, to collectively denounce the behavior.
“It’s really something beautiful out of something ugly,” Yakar said of the swift and unified response from the community.
The Rabbi expects representation from at least five different faith congregations as well as members of the business community, officials from the city and county, law enforcement, educators and nonprofits.
“This is not something that is acceptable, and we will not stand for it in our city,” Chris Fiore, communications manager for the city, told the Tribune.
Thursday’s demonstration of unity will involve temporarily covering the anti-Semitic graffiti until it can be permanently cleaned up.
The vandalism comes amid an ongoing spike in reported anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S.
Tracking by the Anti-Defamation League found 1,879 anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. during 2018 — a 5% decrease from 2017 but 48% increase from 2016 and 99% increase from 2015.
“My perspective is it mostly comes from a place of fear and lack of knowledge,” Yakar said of the increase in reported incidents.
Regarding the anti-Semitic message in South Lake Tahoe, Yakar believes a clear and cogent message is needed from all sectors of the community, and that is what he hopes to accomplish Thursday.
South Lake Tahoe police took a report on the graffiti but the incident is not viewed as a threat, according to Fiore.
It is not the first time anti-Semitic vandalism has tarnished the community.
In 2004, hateful messaging was spray painted on the outside of Temple Bat Yam, where Yakar has served as a rabbi for nearly eight years.
A spray-painted Nazi SS symbol, two swastikas and the words “Die Jew” were discovered on the temple on the first day of Hanukkah in 2004. The Tribune reported at the time that it was the first instance of anti-Semitism experienced in the synagogue’s 22-year history in South Lake Tahoe.