Swastikas found spray-painted in East Cobb spur action from synagogue

Swastikas were found painted on privacy fences last week on Holly Springs Road near Post Oak Tritt Road in East Cobb. Credit: Rabbi Larry Sernovitz/Temple Kol Emeth
Swastikas were found painted on privacy fences last week on Holly Springs Road near Post Oak Tritt Road in East Cobb. Credit: Rabbi Larry Sernovitz/Temple Kol Emeth

Credit: Rabbi Larry Sernovitz/Temple Kol Emeth

Credit: Rabbi Larry Sernovitz/Temple Kol Emeth

An East Cobb synagogue is calling on the community to take a stand against bigotry after several swastikas were painted on a neighborhood fence on more than one occasion.

Six large swastikas were found Friday spray painted on a fence on Holly Springs Road near Post Oak Tritt Road, the Anti-Defamation League Southern Division said Monday.

Senior Rabbi Larry Sernovitz at Temple Kol Emeth in East Cobb said people should be alarmed by swastikas, considered “hate symbols,” despite whether they were drawn as pranks by children or someone specifically targeting Jewish residents.

“You just can’t dismiss it as kids because bottom line, kids get it from somewhere,” he said. “They learn to hate Jews and put swastikas out there.”

Temple Kol Emeth on Monday will announce plans to host bias training for the public. Interfaith leaders from around the county and representatives from the Cobb County Police Department and Board of Commissioners are expected to attend a Monday press conference, Sernovitz said. The Temple’s address is 1415 Old Canton Road in Marietta.

The Anti-Defamation League said last year that it documented its largest number of anti-Semitic incidents around the country. Vandalism increased 19 percent from 774 incidents in 2018, to 919 in 2019, according to its Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents.

Dr. Allison Padilla-Goodman, vice-president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Southern Division, said waking up to see anti-Semitic vandalism spray painted throughout one’s neighborhood is “never easy to swallow.”

“They always spark a lot of emotion and anger and fear, and I think they make people feel pretty uneasy and alienated,” she said.

The Cobb County Police Department is investigating another report of racist vandalism in the same area. An East Cobb resident reported early last week that a swastika and “MAGA 2020″ were spray painted overnight on the fence in the 2500 block of Holly Springs Road, according to an incident report shared by the agency. “MAGA 2020″ is the abbreviation for President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, Make America Great Again. A swastika was also painted on a street sign, the report adds.

Sernovitz said the East Cobb community has experienced anti-Semitic vandalism over the years, but it’s important for residents to come together and say that these incidents are not OK. The Jewish community, like other marginalized groups, have learned over the years that when they are dehumanized it can lead to acts of violence against them. “It’s easier to kill you,” he said. Refusing to speak out against hate allows that dehumanization to continue, the rabbi said.

“It’s not enough to have a token person in your life,” he said. “Once you get to know someone, it’s really hard to hate them. And in the broken world in which we live, we must all come together and see the humanity in one another.”

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