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Swastika spray-painted at Newton temple

Posted by David Dahl, Regional Editor November 15, 2008 04:58 PM

Someone spray-painted a swastika on the sign at a Newton temple Friday night or early this morning.

Rabbi Eric Gurvis of Temple Shalom said a number of teenagers and their parents attending a ceremony today noticed it, prompting him to scrap his planned comments and condemn it from the pupit. He also talked about the incident with members of a prayer group of about 40 people.

"There is a collective sense at a troubled time that we need to be optimistic and try to make things better," he said, paraphrasing his remarks. "Something like this reminds you how much more there is to do, and on how many fronts."

Gurvis, in his 10th year as rabbi at the temple, which is on Temple Street in the West Newton area, said there had been no similar problems during his tenure.

Newton Mayor David Cohen came to the temple and sat through services to show his support, Gurvis said, as did Richard Malmberg, pastor of the Second Church of Newton.

Gurvis said grounds crews from the temple were able to remove the swatika from the sign. Gurvis said he decided it should be removed quickly because hundreds of young students would be arriving for Hebrew school on Sunday.

"I don't know that they need to see that," he said. "Even if it was a prank, it's not funny. It's a hate crime."

-- Megan Woolhouse

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