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Anti-Semitic Graffiti Found at South Mountain Reservation; Community Responds

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SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Anti-Semitic graffiti was found on the pedestrian bridge that crosses South Orange Avenue at the South Mountain Reservation Tuesday. Removal of the graffiti by Essex County workers began shortly after it was reported.

Several area rabbis were at the graffiti site.

"The hatred seems to be rampant these days," Matthew Gewirtz, senior rabbi of Congregation B'nai Jeshurun in Short Hills and a Maplewood resident. "It rattles the soul of our community  I am heartened by the rapid response of local clergy and civil officials. We all need to stand together against hate and stand up in pride for who we are as a community."

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Rabbi Jesse Olitzky of Congregation Beth El posted to his Facebook page, "Thanks to the Essex County Park System for responding so quickly and swiftly to Anti-Semitic hate graffiti in South Mountain Reservation. This isn't who we are as a community and we won't let this graffiti define us."

A "Candlelight Peace Patrol at the South Mountain Reservation Bridge" was planned for Tuesday evening from 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. For details, click here.

The event page on Facebook states, "Today, our community was defaced by anti-Semitic graffiti. We will stand up and say that we will not accept this. Please bring CANDLES and posters/artwork/messages of love, and meet at the bridge over South Orange Avenue at 5:45 for an informal candlelight peace patrol.”

In response to recent bomb threats to dozens of Jewish Community Centers, including JCC MetroWest in West Orange, the Livingston Clergy Association, which represents many houses of worship in the community, wrote a letter to the editor stating that it "stands with those in our state and nation who condemn an unprecedented spike in hate rhetoric and bias-motivated incidents targeting minorities, especially those based on religion – most recently, towards Jews and Muslims."

Read the full letter here.

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