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Jewish community responds to anti-Semitic act at Wrightsville Beach, commends quick response and support

Updated: Jun. 5, 2021 at 8:47 PM EDT
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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. (WECT) - On Thursday, Sue Mintzes went on a walk down Lumina Avenue in Wrightsville Beach around midday when she saw something very disturbing at the entrance of Beach Access One, especially for someone of Jewish faith like herself. A swastika had been spray-painted on a sign at the entrance of the access.

“It made me very angry,” Mintzes said.

She believes that the swastika defacing the entrance of the access was drawn out of ignorance.

“I would want this individual to be educated in what that symbol means and how hateful it is to the community,” Mintzes said.

Rabbi Chaya Bender with B’nai Israel Congregation in Wilmington said she would also come from a place of education.

“It’s taking a historical symbol of our oppression and our genocide and using it to put fear in our hearts and stop us from celebrating and stop us from being in our faith,” Rabbi Bender said. “What I want to say is, ‘have you ever had a conversation with someone who’s Jewish? Have you ever sat down with a Rabbi or a Cantor and gotten to know us personally or gotten to know our faith?’”

Both Mintzes and Rabbi Bender commend the Wrightsville Beach community for its quick response in removing the symbol.

Mintzes walked home and planned on driving back to take a picture of it, but that it had already been removed by the time she returned.

“Extremely quickly and no one no one discounted the importance of it,” she said. “[I’m] impressed with public works and the police and taking care of this immediately.”

She also said that many of her neighbors on Wrightsville Beach reached out upon hearing the news to offer their support.

Emails shared with WECT News show that the graffiti had been removed about an hour after the Board of Alderman and Town Manager were made aware of it.

It was also removed before a WECT Crew arrived early Thursday afternoon.

Rabbi Bender said by the time it was brought to her attention — it had already been taken care of by authorities.

“The police, the mayor, the attorney general, the FBI had been notified, so really at that point what I felt that I needed to do was to begin healing, was to rally the greater Jewish community and how could we respond,” she said.

She reached out to “the different corners of our faiths” in order to “come as one united Jewish front.” They decided to write a letter explaining briefly what happened and the Jewish community’s response to the anti-Semitic act.

“While anti-Semitism is unfortunately on the rise in our country and around the world, we hoped we would have been spared these acts of hatred in our hometown. However, it has come to our attention that there has recently been an incident at Wrightsville Beach where a swastika was painted on a poster by Beach Access 1 . At this time, all necessary authorities have been contacted, are ensuring the safety of our community, and have removed the offensive graffiti.

We hope and pray that this is an isolated incident, and we are very grateful for the love and support for the Jewish community by the greater Wilmington community. Should you hear about any additional anti-Semitic incidents, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of us.

Fear will not keep us from our faith. Now more than ever is the time for the Jewish community to come together and celebrate the richness of our heritage while also sharing our sacred traditions with the entire community.

Let us unite to ensure that Wilmington is a safe and welcoming home for all.

With Prayers for Shalom (Peace),

Rabbi Chaya Bender ~ B'nai Israel Congregation

Rabbi Moshe Y. Lieblich ~ Chabad of Wilmington

Rabbi Emily Losben-Ostrov ~Temple of Israel

Alan Gerberg, President of UJA of Wilmington

Debbie Smith, President and Chair of Wilmington Jewish Film Festival

Wilmington Hadassah”

B'nai Israel Congregation, Wilmington, N.C.

Rabbi Bender said that it’s important to step up as allies for the Jewish community in wake of acts like this one.

“I welcome the open arms of our community and I also, like I said, welcome the love and welcome the education from those who aren’t there yet. This is the time to stand up for us,” she said.

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