Chabad of Noe Valley in San Francisco is bulking up security after discovering a hateful message scrawled near its front gate.
Preschool teachers arriving at the Jewish center the morning of May 14 discovered the graffiti drawn in black ink, reading “Israil terror” and “Death to Israil.”
The Gan Noe Preschool brings about 30 children every weekday to the center. Its curriculum is guided by Jewish values, according to its website, encouraging “kindness, respect, compassion, confidence and responsibility.”
“It was very unsettling to think that someone would take out their rage on children,” said Rabbi Gedalia Potash, “and express themselves in such an unsettling way.”
The San Francisco Police Department is investigating the incident, Potash said, and the FBI was contacted. On Wednesday an SFPD spokesperson said the investigation remained open.
The graffiti comes amid a wave of antisemitic outbursts across the country coinciding with intense fighting in Israel and Gaza and sharp criticism of Israel in the public square. The Anti-Defamation League had tallied at least 26 antisemitic incidents since May 10, including several physical attacks. Jews in Los Angeles were attacked outside a Japanese restaurant on May 18, and on May 24 a kosher pizzeria in Manhattan found a brick thrown through its window.
“This does feel quite different,” ADL executive Jonathan Greenblatt told the Washington Post.
After the graffiti was discovered the Chabad center hired a professional security guard for the preschool, Potash said, and is using volunteers to monitor the front entrance during Shabbat services.
To rebut the hateful message, preschoolers decorated a banner welcoming Shabbat the day of the incident.
“The kids all got together before the end of the day” to decorate the sign, Potash said. “They hung it up for the whole neighborhood to wish them a Shabbat Shalom.”
“That’s really our message,” he said. “We are going to be stronger and prouder, and not cower to intimidation like this. We are going to show we are a peaceful people.”