As the faithful prepared for the Sabbath a day before Hanukkah, the Homestead Jewish Center was vandalized with an anti-Semitic banner early Saturday morning, police say.
At least one vandal scaled the fence outside the center, which is also the site of the Temple Hatikvah synagogue, and hung a sheet that read “the goyim know 88,” according to a joint press release issued Monday by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Anti-Defamation League.
The message is a combination of two frequently-used anti-Semitic messages — “the goyim know” and “88.”
The “goyim know” relates to the racist trope that Jewish people secretly control institutes of power like banking and the media, and refers to panic among Jews that non-Jews, the goyim, are on to the plot, according to the ADL. The number 88, on the other hand, translates to “heil Hitler,” because “H” is the eighth letter of the alphabet, the ADL said.
“The Jewish community will not be intimidated by such blatant attempts to frighten us into hiding our identity,” Jacob Solomon, Greater Miami Jewish Federation president and CEO, said in a statement. “We have always been and will continue to be proudly and outwardly Jewish.”
The banner was slung over the fence so that people inside the center could see it, Solomon said.
Homestead Police Capt. Fernando Morales said the incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime.
“Whenever we’re dealing with this type of situation, that’s always a possibility,” Morales said Monday.
Members of the Homestead Jewish Center did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
According to the press release, the vandalism does not appear to be indicative of a greater threat to the area’s Jewish community.
“The Federation, its JCRC and ADL are unaware of any additional threats to Jewish organizations in South Florida at this time. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as appropriate,” the groups said in a statement.
Nevertheless, local Jewish leaders say they will not be intimidated by whomever was behind the act and urged everyone, not just Jews, to come together to denounce the message.
“Hate will not be tolerated in Miami-Dade County,” Sarah Emmons, ADL Florida regional director, said in a statement. “Hate crimes may target individuals or single institutions but are generally done to send a message of fear and intimidation to entire communities — and so entire communities must denounce these insidious acts.”
Solomon told the Miami Herald Monday that he has no message for those responsible for hanging the banner because “anti-Semitism has been around for a millennia and will probably continue to be around.”
But, he urged those who hear statements of hatred against any group to say something.
“I’m much more concerned about people willing to be bystanders instead of upstanders,” Solomon said. “That’s the environment where hatred is allowed to go unchecked.”
On Tuesday, the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, released a statement condemning the vandalism.
“This disturbing incident reminds us of the danger posed by the rising tide of anti-Semitism, white supremacy and racist hate,” CAIR-Florida Communications Director Wilfredo Amr Ruiz said. “We condemn this hateful act and welcome law enforcement’s decision to pursue a hate crime investigation.”
Anyone with information on the vandalism is asked to call the Homestead Police Department at (305) 247-1535. The press release also asks people with information to contact the Jewish Federation at firstname.lastname@example.org, and the ADL at adl.org/reportincident.