When members of the Nessah Synagogue on 142 S. Rexford Dr. in Beverly Hills, California. arrived for Shabbat morning services, they found papers and fliers from the lobby scattered across the front, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday. Earlier, at 7 AM, a synagogue employee found the door open and the synagogue vandalized and items inside ransacked.
The Beverly Hills Police issued a press release saying it is actively investigating a series of vandalism that took place in the City of Beverly Hills overnight. After the synagogue worker notified security of the break in, police investigators came on the scene.
Police believe a lone male suspect committed a series of minor vandalism as he traversed through the Rexford/Elm alley south of Wilshire Blvd. during the early morning hours. At approximately 2 AM, the same suspect arrived at the Nessah Synagogue and forced his way in. The suspect then moved throughout the synagogue, heavily ransacking the interior. The suspect overturned furniture and threw brochures and printed materials throughout the interior. He damaged several Jewish relics, but fortunately the Synagogue’s Torah scrolls survived unscathed. The disruption was primarily to the Synagogue’s interior contents, and there is very limited structural damage.
The synagogue’s Torah ark is a replica of the one in the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam.
The synagogue was established in 1980 for Persian Jews who fled to Los Angeles County after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Today it functions as a large religious, educational and cultural center, where Hebrew language and Iranian Jewish history is taught. The synagogue offers three weekly Torah classes, daily prayer services, lectures, and three different Shabbat services. It is a major community center for the Persian Jews of Los Angeles, but many members maintain affiliation with other area congregations, including Reform.
At this point in the investigation, it does not appear that any Synagogue property was stolen during the crime, according to police. No one was inside the Synagogue during the crime, and no one was injured. Although police are investigating this as a hate crime, the suspect left no markings or other overt signs of anti-Semitism.
The Synagogue called for clean-up efforts immediately and will be open on Sunday.
The suspect is described as a male white, 20-25 years of age, short, dark, curly hair, thin build, possibly wearing prescription glasses, shorts, and low top shoes (possibly Pumas). He carried a backpack and pulled a rolling suitcase.
“This cowardly attack hits at the heart of who we are as a community,” said Los Angeles Mayor John Mirisch. “It is not just an attack on the Jewish Community of Beverly Hills; it’s an attack on all of us. The entire City stands in solidarity behind Nessah, its members and congregants. We are committed to catching the criminal who desecrated a holy place on Shabbat of all days and bringing him to justice. We are equally committed that our City will continue to be a welcoming place for Jews and for members of all religions and groups.”