Our community was horrified yesterday to learn that Kesher Israel Congregation was desecrated with two swastikas painted on their building at 2500 North Third Street. Although KI was able to remove the physical markings, the pain of this act of hatred remains. The Mayor’s Interfaith Advisory Committee has organized a brief vigil from 5:00-5:30pm on Wednesday, 8/12, outside of KI and is planning additional events. We will share information as we have it. Community Responders Network already has a series of programs being offered regarding racial and religious harmony and details about their next program will be in our community email later today. Yesterday, we collected numerous statements of support for KI and the entire Jewish Community which are shared below.
Rabbi Elisha Friedman of Kesher Israel shared the following:
“Please extend my appreciation to the Jewish Federation of Harrisburg, the Orthodox Union, the Harrisburg PD who responded immediately and were in touch throughout the day to protect us, the State Troopers and especially the Heritage Affairs Section, who also stayed in touch all day, the Attorney General's office which coordinated a response amongst law enforcement agencies, Representative Patty Kim and State Senator John Disanto, and George Scott, who each called personally to express their support and offer any assistance we needed, the Harrisburg Mayor's Interfaith Advisory Council, which organized a vigil, local rabbis and numerous faith leaders who have reached out, and our neighbors and fellow community members who have all expressed their support and concern during this scare. The perpetrator(s) hoped to sow division and fear, but through the overwhelming outpouring of so many coming forward to express their support and friendship for our synagogue and the broader Jewish community, what was intended to divide and alienate us and make us feel unwelcome and scared, failed miserably and instead reminded us of what a strong and loving community we are part of. The actions of these disturbed and unfortunate individuals do not reflect at all the best of what makes the Harrisburg area such an inspiring and welcoming place to live in.”
The Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg and its Community Relations Council condemn in the strongest possible terms the desecration of the Kesher Israel synagogue. Since World War II, the swastika has been a symbol of death, hate and destruction that people of all faiths, nationalities and beliefs reject. Painting the ultimate symbol of hate, racism and genocide on a synagogue, community center or cemetery in our community or anywhere in the world is universally repugnant. We stand in solidarity with fellow congregants, our Harrisburg neighbors and Americans of good will everywhere in supporting tolerance, equality and freedom--absolutely no exceptions, no qualification and no hate symbols—not now, not ever.
We are heartened by the immediate, robust and sincere expressions of condemnation of this act and depth of support for Kesher Israel. Together we stay strong and united in faith and solidarity. Thank you to the Greater Harrisburg community.
All of us at Temple Ohev Sholom share in your sadness and outrage over the recent vandalism at Kesher Israel synagogue. An attack on one Jewish institution is an attack on all Jewish institutions, and we are here for you as your neighbors and friends to fight anti-Semitism wherever it exists and to support you at this difficult time.
Peter Kessler, Rabbi and Rob Teplitz, President
Painting a swastika on a synagogue is meant to instill fear in Jews and all those dehumanized by Nazi ideology. However, the widespread condemnation of this cowardly and hateful act demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of Americans - of all religious, political, racial and other backgrounds - stand united together to protect the freedoms of people throughout our nation. We support our friends at Kesher Israel and all those threatened by hate groups. Our most effective response to this crime is to redouble our efforts to build a more just and equal society.
Rabbi Ron Muroff, Chisuk Emuna Congregation
Our thoughts and prayers are with Kesher Israel synagogue at this very difficult time. The expressions of hate in our country are deeply disturbing, but we are all heartened by the outpouring of love and support from the caring people of Central Pennsylvania, and are committed to rise above the hatred.
Jennie Kornfeld, Co-President, Temple Beth Shalom of the West Shore
Though I walk through the valley of deepest darkness, I fear no harm, for You are with me.” (Psalm 23) The vandalism of Kesher Israel cast a pall of darkness over Harrisburg’s Jewish community, but we will not fear for we stand together, protected by our unity and by God. As the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor I feel personally the sting of the swastika, as it represents the deadly hatred that killed many members of my family. Yet I will not cower in the face of this weaponized symbol, for I know that we are held by a resilient Jewish community, and a caring community of allies here in Harrisburg. To all those at Kesher Israel and in the Harrisburg Jewish community who feel personally the sting of the swastika, we at Beth El Temple wish you strength in the knowledge that we are not alone, that we are protected by one another and by the divine.
Rabbi Arianna Capptauber, Beth El Temple
The Jewish Community Foundation of Central PA is saddened to learn of the vandalism that included swastikas painted on the building of Kesher Israel congregation of Harrisburg. It is especially disturbing to see such symbols of hatred employed at a time when we are all facing an international health crisis. And when we are all so keenly aware of the tragedy of racism and the abhorrent behaviors that occur when people forget that we are all part of one race, the human race. We extend our prayers and best wishes to the Kesher Israel Congregation and to all people of good will, especially those facing such unfortunate challenges.
Paulette Keifer, Executive Director
The Silver Academy joins the Jewish community in condemning the desecration of Kesher Israel's synagogue. The Kesher Israel community is in our thoughts and prayers, as we all stand together against hatred and anti-Semitism.
Samara Sofian, Head of School
The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition expresses solidarity with Congregation Kesher Israel, a synagogue in Harrisburg that was victimized by Nazi swastikas spray-painted on its walls. Acts of antisemitism are intolerable anywhere, and particularly so in a commonwealth founded on the ideals of tolerance and interfaith understanding. Such heinous acts at a house of worship highlight the critical need for increased funding of building security, expansion of hate crime legislation and the teaching of the lessons of the Holocaust and cultural awareness.
Marc Zucker, Chair, Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition
The third time in 36 years of living in Harrisburg a building in our community has been desecrated by haters of the Jewish People. Many of us are still living in the memories of the murders of one third of our people, the murders of generations of those who love and live Torah. This blow is lessened only by the knowledge that the police and the lawmakers of our community are working with us in love of justice, equality, and freedom.
Rabbi Hava Pell
The despicable and callous act that most certainly was rooted in antisemitism with regards to the desecration of Kesher Israel Congregation is not only condemned by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. But it calls us to an even higher level of our humanity to not only just stand with Kesher Israel Congregation at this moment but in the days to come and to be prepared to assist when called upon.”- Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission
Chad Dion Lassiter, MSW, Executive Director, PA Human Relations Commission
The Interfaith Center of Greater Harrisburg stands in solidarity with Kesher Israel Congregation in decrying the desecration of this house of worship. We join in prayer for our sisters and brothers at Kesher Israel. We pray also for those who committed this act that they may come to know that of God within them.
Rev. Dr. Cynthia Mara
We lament that we are living in a time where hate-filled rhetoric is sparking actions aimed at instilling fear in those labeled as "other." We join with neighbors in our community to stand with the Kesher Israel Congregation, offering our prayers and support. In doing so, we shine the light of God's love with the confidence that it is stronger than the darkness of hate and fear.
Rev. Sandra L. Strauss, Director of Advocacy & Ecumenical Outreach, Pennsylvania Council of Churches
Christian Churches United of the Tri-County Area strongly condemns the desecration of the Kesher Israel synagogue and stands with our brothers and sisters in the Jewish faith as we work together to promote a loving and compassionate community. We encourage all people of faith to stand against hatred and discrimination in any form, creatively finding ways to build bridges of understanding and trust between our faith communities.
Darrel Reinford, Executive Director, Christian Churches United
The Community Responders Network, a grassroots coalition committed to confronting and preventing incidents of bias in Central PA, affirms the right of all people to be safe to worship as they choose. Acts of hatred, like what has been directed at the holy place of Kesher Israel, are not manifestations of strength but mere acts of fear and weakness. Equality and non-violence are acts of strength and true manifestations of love. Love is more powerful than fear. We stand with the strong and loving members of Kesher Israel.
Ann Van Dyke www.bit.ly/crnpa
Not in Our Town-Carlisle was horrified to learn of the shameful, hateful acts desecrating a holy place of worship. Not in Our Town-Carlisle stands with Kesher Israel and the Jewish Community. Our hearts go out to our sisters and brothers who will continue to live with this horrific imprint long after the hateful symbols are removed. We are deeply concerned and we stand in solidarity with you. We will continue to work together to combat hate and fear. We offer our love and support during this deeply troubling time.
Hate has no place in our community, we stand with all the members of IRF and their faith. We condemn in strongest terms any violence against anyone". We support Jewish Community and their places of worship wherever they may be in the world. People of Kesher Israel Synagogue, we stand in solidarity and support.
Kanti Jasani, Chairman, Hindu American Religious Institute
I was saddened and appalled to hear of the desecration of the Kesher Israel Congregation, and I am writing, on behalf of Oryoki Zendo's Board of Directors and Sangha, to condemn this hateful act. We stand in solidarity against any act of violence such as this, and send heartfelt sympathies and best wishes to the Kesher Israel Congregation for peace, healing and reconciliation.
Osho Andrea Minick Rudolph
The InterReligious Forum of Greater Harrisburg abhors the unacceptable
The Dragonfly Sangha stands in solidarity with the Kesher Israel congregation and all of our sisters and brothers of the Jewish faith, in faith and love, and against discrimination and hateful attempts to instill fear in the Jewish community.
It is through community and love, not through hate or fear, that we will remain one and united. We are here for you all. Please let me know if there is ever anything we can do for you now or in the future.
Oshō Geoffrey Dunaway
The Goodwin Memorial Baptist Church stands with the Kesher Israel Congregation and the many voices of this community that condemn this senseless act of hatred. There is no place for this type of mentality in the sanctity of our surrounding neighborhood and no place for this type of action being directed toward any of our houses of worship. Our prayers are with our Jewish brothers and sisters. We stand in solidarity with you as your neighbors and your friends.
Pastor Barry D. Chambers
We are deeply saddened to hear of the desecration of the synagogue of the Kesher Israel Congregation. I and the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community throughout their 100-year history in the United States, we have condemned racial injustice and fought against racial division in order to champion justice for all Americans. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made it clear that no race is superior to another, and the lives of all human life and honor must be treated as sacred. We all agree on that the sacred value of human life, regardless of color or faith.
Love for all Hatred for none! Hatred has no place in Harrisburg or in our world. We stand in firm solidarity with the Jewish community.
Mayor Eric Papenfuse and the Mayor's Interfaith Advisory Council condemn this outrageous act in the strongest terms. We stand in complete support of and solidarity with the members of Kesher Israel and the entire Jewish community of Greater Harrisburg. An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. All of God's creation is holy, and worthy to be loved.
Russell W. Goodman, Pastor, MIAC Co-Chair
We at Pine Street Presbyterian Church condemn this criminal act of hatred directed towards our Jewish brothers and sisters. With the people of Kesher Israel Synagogue and the Jewish community, we stand in solidarity and support.
Russell C. Sullivan, Jr., Pastor
The members of the Market Square Presbyterian Church in Harrisburg, and its Peacemaking Committee, deplore the recent act of hate and bigotry directed against the Kesher Israel Congregation and, by extension, all of our Jewish siblings. Our hearts are broken, again. Would that compassion and joy were the common coins of our human family but we shall continue to live and work toward that end. We extend our friendship and support to the members of the Kesher Israel Congregation and to the Jewish Community of Greater Harrisburg and beyond. May peace be with us all.
The Reverend Thomas A. Sweet, Pastor and the Peacemaking Committee of Market Square Presbyterian Church
The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Harrisburg and the Baha'is of Greater Harrisburg convey their feeling of horror and sorrow to the entire Jewish community on what has happed to one of your Houses of Worship. And as one persecuted religious community to another, we truly can tell you that we deeply share how you feel at this moment. We send you our prayers to console your hearts, and strength and ease your mind! We stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers, and please let us know whatever we can.
With loving greetings, Behzad Zandieh
The Parish Community of Saint Joseph of The Old Catholic Church joins with those throughout our South Central Pennsylvania region in our complete abhorrence of this despicable act. It matters not whether it was done with a malicious intent, or done by an individual (or individuals) as a “prank,” the sheer nature of it disgusts us all. We pray for those responsible that they may come forward, acknowledge their behavior, and seek forgiveness. And we stand in full solidarity with Rabbi Friedman and our sisters and brothers of the Kesher Israel Congregation is denouncing this event. May they feel our love and prayerful support as we join our hearts together to overshadow this cowardly act.
Blessings, Bishop Michael Scalzi
As a minister of religion in the Unitarian Universalist tradition and as a human individual, I am appalled by the desecration of Kesher Israel Congregation. I stand in solidarity with Rabbi Friedman and all our colleagues in condemning this action and supporting the congregation that has been attacked. I assure you that the congregation of the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg stands in solidarity with people of Kesher Israel. Yours in shared ministry,
The Rev. Dr. Anthony P. Johnson, The Unitarian Church of Harrisburg
We are saddened, and strongly condemn this act of hate towards a House of Worship. We stand in solidarity with Kesher Israel and the Jewish community.
Best Regards, Muslims of Central Pa
The Diocese of Harrisburg, following the Decree of the Second Vatican Council, Nostra ætate, "decries hatred, persecutions, and displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone." We support our Jewish neighbors in this time of trial and invite all people to "pursue what leads to peace and to building up one another." (Romans 14:19)
Fr. James Lease
We at St Paul’s stand with our brothers and sisters at Kesher Israel and give our support to Rabbi Friedman and the people of this congregation. God’s love covers us all and we are with you in love.
The Rev. Canon Kate Harrigan, St Paul’s Episcopal Church Harrisburg, Rector
St Stephen’s Episcopal School, Harrisburg, Chaplain
The news of this horrific desecration causes me to grieve with you and all of those whose lives are affected by such hateful, malicious action. As clergy in the United Church of Christ, I join in condemning this act of hatred and discrimination. I feel certain that I represent other UCC clergy and congregants in offering our siblings of Kesher Israel Congregation these cyber words of our support and solidarity with them as they deal with and try to recover from the physical and emotional damage done. May God's light of love break through the darkness of all the hate and division and grant you comfort, healing and strength.
Rev. Karin Stork-Whitson PhD
MCC of the Spirit condemns the horrendous actions of those who desecrated Kesher Israel Congregation. While symbols of hatred can be washed from a wall, they remain forever in our spirits. We of MCC of the Spirit pray that G_d will bestow strength and comfort on our Jewish sisters and brother as they journey through this incident. May they know the love and support for them from our community.
Rev. Dr. Lori E. Hatch-Rivera, Senior Pastor
We the members of Wesley Union AME Zion Church condemn this ungodly act by. If there is anything we can do let us know. We stand and pray with you.
Rev. Dr. David Miller
We stand in firm solidarity with our Jewish Family. Hate and racism have no place in this world.
Laura Pickering Ford, Harrisburg Friends Meeting
Hearing of such a cowardly and openly hate filled action truly needs to be condemned. It sickens me to continually hear of the reports of the hate that has become a daily act. A true sign that we still have a lot of work to do to create a world and nation of love and unity. We the Penbrook United Church of Christ condemn this cowardly act of hatred. We stand with Kesher Israel Congregation in unity. We hold them in our prayers.
Rev. Brian Damrow, Penbrook UCC
We are saddened to hear of the desecration of the synagogue of the Kesher Israel Congregation. Hatred has no place in Harrisburg or in our world. We stand in firm solidarity with the Jewish community.
Melissa Carley Manning, Pax Christi Harrisburg
People of all faiths as well as all American citizens should be standing in solidarity with the Kesher Israel congregation today as we witness this hateful act of desecration. Our many and varied congregations in the Harrisburg area are united in support on one another and one of our American Constitution’s basic tenets is Freedom of Religion. Those Cowards responsible for this act are to be pitied for their ignorance but must be held accountable.
John P. Judson, M.D.
Kesher Israel Congregation in Harrisburg reported swastikas painted on its synagogue. Graffiti and vandalism will not be tolerated and I reject the hatred these symbols represent. While this may be an isolated incident, we cannot allow this behavior to become routine.
Rep. Patty Kim
Hate has no place in our community. History teaches us that we have a moral responsibility to condemn this type of behavior in the strongest terms. I stand in solidarity with the Kesher Israel Congregation against this act of intolerance and bigotry.
The Sikh community of Harrisburg always condemn these kinds of acts that spread hatred or fear within any community and stand in solidarity with the Kesher Israel Congregation and the Jewish community. We will lend any assistance you want us to offer.
We are outraged by the vile sign of hatred and anti-Semitism committed against Kesher Israel Congregation. We who believe in freedom must fight and work together in word action to end this madness.
Rev. Tabitha P. Ssonko
NO ANTI-SEMITIC MESSAGES or destruction of property with a symbol is ACCEPTABLE.
Franklin E. H. Allen
We are outraged to learn of the anti-Semitic vandalism at a synagogue in Harrisburg. This is the third time in less than a month that a Pennsylvania synagogue has been targeted by hate. Sadly, this is part of a larger trend: anti-Semitic incidents against Jewish institutions more than tripled in Pennsylvania last year, contributing to the second-highest number of incidents in Pennsylvania since we started tracking in 1979. Our recent 2019 audit of anti-Semitic incidents provides more details about these incidents and their frequency: https://
The swastika is one of the most painful hate symbols for Jews. Its meaning is clear. The perpetrators intended to terrorize their targets, but the Jewish community of Harrisburg will not be cowed. Our Hate Symbols Database has more information on this vile symbol: https://www.adl.org/
We thank law enforcement for their response to this incident, and we urge investigators and prosecutors to pursue this as a hate crime. We are heartened to see the Harrisburg community come together to support Kesher Israel. Together, can we make Pennsylvania No Place for Hate.