HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – It’s been more than a month since two Huntsville-area synagogues were vandalized.
Etz Chayim Synagogue just off Bailey Cove Road was vandalized with antisemitic language and symbols on April 9. Just a day later, Chabad of Huntsville faced the same reality. The two places of worship are less than 10 miles away from one another.
Friday, WHNT News 19 spoke with representatives from both synagogues. Since they were vandalized, they have heightened security with additional cameras and improved lighting on both properties. Chabad of Huntsville has even gone as far as hiring physical security guards to monitor the synagogue.
The Huntsville Police Department, with the help of the FBI, has continued investigating what local officials have called a hate crime. But not without a couple of obstacles.
“We can say the investigation is far from over,” explained Lt. Michael Johnson of the Huntsville Police Department. “We do have a suspect or suspects in mind. There’s evidence being reviewed by investigations and there are some issues with this evidence, it has to be processed. It takes time.”
The incidents didn’t just rally the community locally. National organizations have spoken out, including the Anti-Defamation League.
“We were horrified see these attacks on the two synagogues in Huntsville,” explained Allison Padilla-Goodman, Vice President of the Southern Division of the Anti-Defamation League. “I mean horrified in general and horrified especially that they took place over Passover, a very important week for the Jewish people.’
Padilla-Goodman said the organization has contributed to the reward fund for information leading to an arrest in Huntsville.
“There was already funds through Crime Stoppers for the apprehension of the perpetrator. With the advice of Huntsville Police Department we have decided to put additional funds to try to make a move happen,” she added.
According to the ADL these kinds of crimes are becoming more common.
“When you compare the data in 2018 to 2015, there is a 99% increase in anti semitic incidents, just that three year period,” explained Padilla-Goodman.
She said the organization is committed to lowering those nationals numbers by raising awareness one case at a time.
While both synagogues are moving past the negativity, they haven’t seen many congregants due to the pandemic. However they say they are grateful for the community’s continued support, and they say they have faith someone will be brought to justice soon.