Hancock community rallies together after local synagogue Temple Jacob was vandalized with swastikas and SS logos.

Photos courtesy of David Holden

On Saturday afternoon, David Holden, President of Temple Jacob in Hancock, Michigan, received a call from the Hancock Police Department.

“I immediately thought something happened to the synagogue,” Holden said. “And sure enough, I was right.”

Police Chief Wayne Butler informed Holden that he received a call from a man who spotted two swastikas and two SS logos spray-painted on Temple Jacob.

The symbols appeared on the back door, on the side of the sandstone foundation, on the front door and on the building’s façade.

“I can’t say that I was shocked because I know this has happened all around the country,” Holden said. “I was just disappointed that it finally happened here — this is not the character of this community.”

This past weekend, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported two synagogues in Wisconsin and Boston were also vandalized.

This is the first time Holden has dealt with this issue during his four years at Temple Jacob, but recalls a past incident of a Nazi banner hung up on its railing and stolen mezuzot.

After receiving the initial call from police, Holden rushed over to the synagogue and began scrubbing the sandstone on the sides of the building.

 

“The next thing I know, there are pick up trucks coming up the driveway, waving at me,” Holden said. “One of the folks was a person who was at Sherwin Williams and overheard a conversation going on. The guy got mad, went home to grab his power washer and came out to power wash the building.”

Locals passing by and several other groups rallied together to help remove the graffiti and repaint.

“I wasn’t scrubbing anymore,” Holden said. “I was trying to find work for everybody who wanted to help out. That is what this community is all about.”

Leaders from the area, including Pastor Bucky Beach from Good Shepard Lutheran Church in Houghton and the President of Michigan Technological University, Richard Koubek, have been outspoken about the issue.

The Hancock Police Department shared with Holden that an investigation is underway.

“I spoke with Chief Butler yesterday and he told me that they were examining our neighbors’ video cameras that might have caught the activity,” Holden said. “They are reaching out to the FBI for additional resources and have been speaking with the Houghton Police Department, since our two communities work closely together.”

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