City horrified by swastikas on Temple Emanu-El 

On the eve of the Passover holiday, community leaders from around The City were shocked at a painted symbol of hatred on San Francisco’s largest Jewish temple.

Sgt. Neville Gittens said a blue swastika — the symbol of Nazi Germany — approximately 10 inches long was found painted on the side of Temple Emanu-El in Presidio Heights at approximately 11 a.m. Monday. Passover — one of Judaism’s most sacred holidays, centered on the story of Moses freeinghis people from bondage in Israel — began at sundown Monday.

Gittens said the graffiti is being treated as a hate crime and the department would have extra patrols in the area during the investigation.

"It really is a shame that in this day and age, that things like this can happen, especially in San Francisco, an extremely liberal, progressive kind of city," said David Heller, president of the Geary Merchants Association.

Heller, who lost a number of family members to German concentration camps in World War II, said hearing about the graffiti brought back painful memories of his family’s past and his own experience with bigotry.

During his run for a supervisor position in 2004, 50 of Heller’s election signs were defaced with a swastika and Star of David, in an anti-Semitic spree that drew international attention.

"I don’t believe that kids would go and do that. I have no doubt that this was done deliberately and calculated," he said.

Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier both issued statements condemning the vandalism.

"It’s particularly outrageous to do something so hurtful to people who give us so much," said Alioto-Pier, whose district includes the Jewish temple.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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