Swastika Scratched Into Glass Doors of Salt Lake City Synagogue

A swastika was found scratched onto the front window of a Jewish synagogue in Salt Lake City on Sunday morning. Police are searching for a suspect seen in a surveillance video, and according to reports, the incident is being treated as a hate crime, while a rabbi from the temple is speaking out about the meaning behind the symbol.

 synagogue
The Star of David on a synagogue in Halle, eastern Germany. A synagogue in Salt Lake City was recently vandalized with a swastika. AXEL SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty

Rabbi Avremi Zippel, the program director at the Chabad Community Center Synagogue, spoke with reporters on Sunday. "A swastika is not a political statement. A swastika is an image of hate. A swastika represents one thing and one thing only and that is death to the Jews," Zippel said.

Police are trying to identify and locate the person who etched the symbol onto the building, and Zippel noted video surveillance captured from building security cameras showed it was "pretty deliberate" and not a seemingly random act of graffiti.

Zippel tweeted about the crime on Sunday.

A swastika scratched into the front window of a synagogue.

May 2021.

Salt Lake City, Utah.

We will not cower in fear.#AmYisraelChai pic.twitter.com/7hRqzUF9nc

— Avremi Zippel (@UtahRabbi) May 16, 2021

Salt Lake City Police were notified of the etching on the glass at the synagogue at about 8:30 a.m. Sunday, and according to a report in the the Salt Lake City newspaper Deseret News, the video showing the vandalism occurred at around around 2 a.m. The video was described as dark, thus making the suspect hard to identify. However, the suspect is said to be male, tall, and wearing dark clothing at the time of the crime.

The vandalism happened as the Israel-Palestinian conflict continues to escalate. The fighting in Gaza and Israel has reached its worst levels since 2014. In the past week, approximately 200 Palestinians have been killed, including more than 50 children.

"We realize that we're in a time of raised global tensions and there's a lot of passionate opinions on both sides and the Israeli-Palestinian issue is a very, very complex one and we understand that being in the Jewish community," Zippel said.

But, Zippel added, marking a Jewish temple with a swastika "is hateful, despicable and cowardly in every sense of the words."

Local and national leaders have offered words of support following the alleged crime, including Utah Senator Mitt Romney. On Twitter, Romney recollected how George Washington welcomed Jews seeking religious freedom into the country, saying the first president show the way for how all American should act. He also wrote, "Those who commit acts of vandalism against Jews or their places of worship in Salt Lake City or anywhere else only disgrace their own souls."

By extending his hand of fellowship to a Rabbi and synagogue, our first president marked the way to be taken by all Americans. Those who commit acts of vandalism against Jews or their places of worship in Salt Lake City or anywhere else only disgrace their own souls. https://t.co/8IJyCzPXKR

— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) May 16, 2021

"We will rise above hatred," Zippel said while addressing the press Sunday. "We will never give it the space and the attention that it demands and that it wants. We will live to fight another day and bring light to a world that so much needs it."

Police are asking anyone with information to call them at 801-799-3000.

Newsweek contacted the Chabad Community Center Synagogue for further comment but had not heard back as of press time.

Newsweek also contacted the Salt Lake City Police Department, who replied there have been no updates about the incident or the potential suspect.