A Washington-area rabbi’s car was vandalized last weekend, its religious and pro-LGBT symbols removed and damaged.
When Rabbi Nehama Benmosche of Machar: The Washington Congregation for Secular Humanistic Judaism returned to her car at 11:45 p.m. on Saturday, she saw that her car magnets with the slogan “Unorthodox Judaism” were scattered on the ground, her rainbow-colored Star of David sticker was ripped and writing on her back window advertising her congregation had been erased, she said.
She had left the car in a New Carrollton commuter parking lot.
She said she believes the vandalism was motivated by hate because her green Kia Soul wasn’t otherwise damaged, the sticker of a bee on her car was still intact and someone had left one of the ripped magnets on her car.
“Whoever did this wanted me to know that they are deliberately causing destruction targeted at me,” said Benmosche. “That is the terrifying and violating part.”
A Prince George’s County Police department spokesperson said the department is investigating the case, but could not provide more details Tuesday.
In an interview, Benmosche explained that she connects last weekend’s incident to the political climate and how “things have gotten a little out of control in this country.” Benmosche recorded a 12-minute video Monday night that she uploaded to YouTube, in which she connected the vandalism of her car to the climate surrounding the election.
“Today we call for justice,” she said, in the video titled, “A letter to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.”
“Today we demand an end to the hatred and the violence against all people regardless of religion, race, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age or belief,” she said.
Benmosche said she told her congregation on Sunday about the vandalism, and congregants applauded when she said she would seek publicity about the incident. She added that she has received many emails of support from the congregation.
Benmosche explained that she had been using the decorations on her car to promote her synagogue, which has 100 member families and is located near American University. Machar, which means “tomorrow” in Hebrew, describes itself as a community “founded on humanistic ideals and dedicated to enhancing Jewish cultural identity.”
Benmosche lives in Philadelphia and commutes to Washington every week. She speculated that the vandalism was done in a way that was “under the radar” because there was no damage to the car and a passerby might not have realized what was going on.
“They did the kind of things people wouldn’t notice happening if they didn’t know what to look for,” she said.
Still, Benmosche considers the vandalism to be a hate crime, and she connects it to historical anti-Semitic attacks. Two of Benmosche’s grandparents were Holocaust survivors.
“This reminded me of the stories I grew up with,” she said. “I take this very personally.”