BEVERLY HILLS (CBSLA) — Police are searching for a man who broke into and ransacked the Nessah Synagogue in Beverly Hills Saturday morning, in what the city’s mayor is calling a “cowardly attack.”
“This cowardly attack hits at the heart of who we are as a community. It’s not just an attack on the Jewish community of Beverly Hills. It’s all attack on all of us… The entire city stands in solidarity behind Nessah, its members and congregants. We are committed to catching the criminal who desecrated a holy place on Shabbat of all days and bringing him to justice. We are equally committed that our city will continue to be a welcoming place for Jews and for members of all religions and groups,” said Mayor John Mirisch.
It’s not clear yet if it was a case of simple vandalism or a hate crime. “Although police are investigating the crime as a hate crime, the suspect left no markings or other overt signs of anti-Semitism,” Beverly Hills Police Lt. Elisabeth Albanese said.
Police say the suspect, who is in his early twenties, went through the Rexford/Elm alley south of Wilshire Blvd. and broke into the synagogue around 2 a.m. Saturday. They say he flipped over furniture and trashed some of the brochures. The man was caught on camera leaving the synagogue wheeling a suitcase behind him and is described as white, 20-25 years old, with short dark curly hair, a thin build, possibly wearing prescription glasses, shorts, and low-top shoes (possibly Pumas).
“The suspect damaged several Jewish relics, but fortunately the main synagogue scrolls survived unscathed, ” said Beverly Hills Assistant Police Chief Marc Coopwood.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles’ first elected Jewish mayor, tweeted that he was “shocked and outraged by the vandalism at Nessah Synagogue.”
Shocked and outraged by the vandalism at Nessah Synagogue in the city of Beverly Hills. We will stand together and speak out strongly against any act of hate and intolerance in our community. We're keeping our friends and neighbors in our thoughts as police investigate.
— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) December 14, 2019
According to its website, Nessah Synagogue was founded by Rabbi David Shofet “and the Iranian Jews of Los Angeles and Beverly Hills,” and “upholds the traditions and customs of Iranian Jews according to Orthodox, Sephardic Halacha.”
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)