When a synagogue is vandalized, whether in our own community or farther afield, we all feel it. Acts of hatred and anti-Semitism have ramifications far beyond geographical borders, stirring the kishkes of every Jew.

The recent desecration of Reconstructionist Temple Beth Israel in Maywood (see page 6) will no doubt have that effect, causing our readers, and all who learn of this distressing incident, to experience feelings of shock, sadness, and – possibly – despair.

Nevertheless, the synagogue has reported that the outpouring of solidarity from the town, both civic officials and members of other religious groups, has been nothing short of “impressive.” And that, says Etzion Neuer of the ADL, is something that should not be taken for granted.

Kol hakavod (literally, “all honor”) to the people of Maywood, who have been pitching in to help the synagogue weather a difficult time. As one congregant reported, DPW personnel who helped remove the grafitti – on their own initiative – expressed horror and disappointment that such an act could take place in their town.

Kol hakavod, as well, to the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, which has been working for years to set up networks fostering positive intergroup relations so that such incidents will be seen for what they are – unacceptable acts of baseless hatred.

Of course, we should not overlook the fact that the desecration, with its use of both white supremacist and Nazi symbols, flags the continuing presence of hate groups in our area. We can take heart, however, from the fact that these groups remain a minority.

Whoever we are and however we practice our Judaism, let us join RTBI at its Dec. 20 celebration of community solidarity. Chanukah is about survival, and we must appreciate the efforts of those who make that survival possible.