Spiritual leaders express support for synagogue | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Spiritual leaders express support for synagogue

Gregory Crofton
Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Swastikas were painted on at least three electrical boxes along Highway 50 through South Lake Tahoe.

On the first day of Hanukkah, messages of hate were spread to South Lake Tahoe’s Jewish community.

Someone used red spray paint to put swastikas on the front door of the Temple Bat Yam and on utility boxes and signs along Highway 50. Religious leaders at South Shore were taken aback by the news.

“I strongly condemn it as would any person of good will,” said Father Mark Richards, of St. Theresa Catholic Church. “My heart goes out to the Jewish community and we stand with them.”

The news hit Pastor Alan Morse, of the First Baptist Church of South Lake Tahoe, hard.

“It really hurts. It bothers me. It really affects me,” Morse said. “This country has to continue to be a friend to the Jew. They’ve given the whole world so much, yet been so mistreated and hated and brutally attacked and massacred. Why would anybody be treated like that goes beyond human mentality.”

When a hate crime occurs, the question of whether to give the act attention in the media always comes up because that spotlight could encourage imitators. Pastor Thurston Ott, of Snowcross Baptist Church at South Lake Tahoe, said silence in this case would be wrong.

“That’s what happened in Europe when the Jews were being persecuted – the world kept silent,” Ott said. “You can’t do that. It is offensive, against the church in general, and you have to speak out and let these people know this will not be tolerated in the community.”

None of the clergy who reacted to the news Tuesday could remember any hate crimes occurring at South Shore before this week. But Ott said graffiti-related hate crime is common in larger cities.

“It’s nothing new to me,” Ott said. “It all goes back to World War II. But we’re not dealing with the community, we’re just dealing with a few individuals.”

Pastor Bob Sapp, of South Shore Christian Fellowship, recently moved from Grass Valley to become a full-time resident of South Lake Tahoe. Grass Valley experienced a hate crime, one he couldn’t specifically recall, while he lived there.

“We support the Jewish community, we just want to reassure them of that,” Sapp said. “There is always a bad personality within any group. These hatemongers and so forth, they are out of place and they’re wrong.”

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com

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