Vandals strike again at Tacony synagogue

A nearly century-old synagogue in the city's Tacony section had its stained glass windows shattered by rocks this weekend for the second time in as many months, a congregation leader said Sunday.

A rock was thrown through a window at Temple Menorah Keneseth Chai on the evening of Dec. 2, said Malcolm Adler, president of the synagogue. Adler said he was almost hit by shards of glass, which scattered in the second-floor sanctuary just before services were to begin. It took a week to replace that window at a cost of $350, he said.

Then, shortly before 7:30 p.m. Friday, the same window was broken again, in the same way, along with two other windows. A rock found inside the building was the size of a baseball, Adler said.

No one was injured in either incident, he said, and no witnesses have come forward.

The synagogue, which has been at that site since 1925, is clearly marked as a Jewish place of worship, and Adler characterized the incidents, both of which occurred on a Friday, the start of the Jewish Sabbath, as apparent hate crimes. Services are held on the second floor, he said, and the first floor is rented to a children's day care center.

The synagogue is the oldest in Northeast Philadelphia, according to a brief description in the Jewish Exponent from 2012.

If the broken windows were a result of a hate crime, as Adler said, it would not be the first time the temple was targeted. Within the last 10 years, a swastika was painted on an outside wall, he said. He could not remember the date of that.

He reported the shattered windows to police, he said. The Philadelphia Police Department did not respond to questions about the vandalism Sunday night.

About 100 people worship at the Conservative synagogue on the 4300 block of Tyson Avenue, Adler said. Some are elderly, and the damage to the building has them "very hot, very upset."

Older women in the congregation have expressed concern about leaving services alone, he said.

Adler said he did not know whether the vandalism was committed by the same person, although the fact the same window was damaged in both cases led him to believe they could be related.