Rabbi Says Synagogue Hate Crime Was Just Meant To 'Make Us Afraid'

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"It’s sickening," said Rabbi Gary Mazo of Temple Adath B'Nai Israel, which was shot up earlier this week. "It’s upsetting, and I do believe it’s an act of hate."

On Feb. 27, gunshot damage was discovered on a synagogue in Evansville, Indiana. The shot had been fired through a classroom window of Temple Adath B'Nai Israel. No one was hurt.

It was, nonetheless, a hate crime — even if it's not recognized as such by authorities, The Huffington Post reports.

“In light of recent events around the country, the possibility of this being a hate crime is something we are keeping on the table, but at this point we have not collected enough information to classify it as a hate crime,” Sgt. Jason Cullum of the Evansville Police Department said to The Huffington Post.

Rabbi Gary Mazo of Temple Adath B'Nai Israel, however, disagrees.

“I believe it’s in response to the climate in our country right now. It comes in response to the rhetoric that comes from the top,” he told the publication. “It’s sickening, it’s upsetting, and I do believe it’s an act of hate.”

He said he thinks the perpetrator's main goal was to inspire terror.

"This is an individual just trying to make us afraid," Mazo said. "Somebody could have inflicted way more damage, but their goal is to instill fear. We stand up to fear. We do that as a community and as a religion."

The temple recently posted about the incident and the subsequent outpouring of support to their Facebook page:

The post reads,

"We have been absolutely overwhelmed with messages of love and support over the past day and a half. From Facebook, to Twitter, to a personal visit by our great mayor to drop in visits by dear clergy friends and phone calls from our Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and atheist friends.

So many have asked "what can we do?" There have been suggestions for rallies, vigils, protests, volunteers to patrol our property and to pay for the damage. Thank you, thank you and thank you for all the support and willingness to help.

I have been trying to preach - and all of our religious traditions teach- that we respond to hate with love. So, to that end I would invite our TABI community, our Interfaith partners and our friends in this community to join us for an uplifting Shabbat worship service this Friday night. It is our monthly "Shabbat Rocks" service with our kippah groovin band and we will have a musical Shabbat focused on love, unity and hope. 7:00 PM at TABI. I hope you can join us."

 Banner/thumbnail credit: Flickr, Steven Lilley

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