Swastikas At The Mikvah...
BLOOMINGBURG – The Anti-Defamation League reports that in the first three months of this year, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United States was 86% higher than the same period last year. Bloominburg, the site of the years' long struggle over the Chestnut Ridge development of 396 townhomes for orthodox Jews, has, unfortunately, seen it's share of attacks.
The weekend before last, it was reported that swastikas were spray painted on the building site of a Bloomingburg mikvah, itself the cause of lawsuits involving the Town of Mamakating until courts decided such ceremonial plunge pools were protected by religious freedom laws. The Sullivan County sheriff's office quickly opened an investigation into the incident.
The last noted round of anti-Semitic acts against the development and Bloomingburg's new orthodox residents occurred in the summer of 2014 when windows were broken with ball bearings fired from a catapult. Michael Essig, a Wurtsboro resident, was eventually arrested and charged for the crime.
This past week, the Anti-Defamation League quickly spoke out against this latest vandalism.
"A mikvah is a central piece of Jewish life, and spray-painting swastikas and crude symbols strikes at the heart of traditional Jewish life and practice," said ADL New York Regional director Evan Bernstein in a statement. "This incident is all the more troubling in the context in which it occurs as there is a growing Jewish community in Bloomingburg. We call on local elected officials and community leaders to denounce this bias incident."
Confronted with the situation, supervisor Bill Herrmann of Mamakating said this week that he waited to see how the investigation played out and whether any arrests would be made. After a couple of days, he decided that the town must be on record denouncing any kind of hate crimes and so the town board released a statement through its press agents in New York City.
"The Town of Mamakating town board strongly condemns the hateful and anti-Semitic acts of vandalism at a construction site for a Jewish ritual bath (mikvah) in Mamakating," the statement that went out on July 3 read. "As a town board, we take these actions of hate very seriously. We stand together with all residents of our community to say that this will not be tolerated in Mamakating, not now, not ever. We encourage the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department investigating these hateful acts to move as quickly as possible to find those responsible and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. Anyone with information about this incident should contact the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department at (845) 794-7100."
At press time there was no word yet on where the investigation was leading.