The Glen Rock Jewish Center is planning a community prayer gathering for Sunday in response to the spray-painting last week of swastikas and other hateful imagery on a Jewish family’s Glen Rock home.
Four 13-year-old boys from the borough were taken into custody Dec. 23 after Lauren Kronemer discovered them defacing her home earlier that day. They allegedly spray-painted a swastika and the word Jew on snow on the property, as well as on an adjacent utility right-of-way property. Another image, according to police, was also spray-painted on the Kronemers’ detached garage.
After the incident, the Jewish Center’s Rabbi Neil Tow reached out to Lauren and Barry Kronemer, who are not members, to express the support of the Jewish community. He said that the vandalism has spurred the center to create more educational opportunities to prevent future incidents.
“What’s important to me is making sure that people are aware of why the swastika is a shameful and disgraceful symbol to be placed anywhere,” Tow said.
In addition to this Sunday’s program, which on Tuesday was still in the planning stages and had yet to be finalized, Tow wants to bring together various religious and lay leaders with members of the Glen Rock school administration and borough council for dialogues.
“One of my hopes is that we can engage in a process of education to help people to learn about not just the swastika but other symbols of hate,” he said. “That we can teach people to … not just avoid using [hateful symbols] but to know why they are so hurtful to not just the Jewish community but to people of all religious communities.”
Lauren Kronemer told The Jewish Standard that she recognized two of the juveniles from the neighborhood but that she does not believe this incident is a black mark on the borough.
The community has been “overwhelmingly supportive,” said Kronemer. “I don’t feel at all that this [incident] is a representation of our community or my town or my neighborhood. The community is overwhelmingly outraged.”
Detective Eric Reamy of the Glen Rock Police Department called the juvenile suspects “bored kids on a half day of school.”
“Being only 13, I don’t think they understood the severity of the [swastika] symbol but they were thoroughly lectured and I think they understand it now,” he said.
The boys have been charged with criminal mischief and a bias crime. The charges are being forwarded to Bergen County Family Court in Hackensack, which will hold a hearing at an as-yet-undetermined date. Police did not release the boys’ names, but Reamy did say the police received full cooperation from their parents and closed the case the same day.
This is the third such incident involving juveniles and hateful graffiti in the past 10 years in Glen Rock. Each one has been an isolated case, Reamy said, and not cause for concern about a trend.
“I don’t see it happening again,” he said. “It’s being talked about around town, which is good. I don’t see anything coming.”
Tow also did not see the event as indicative of something bigger. “We can’t change what happened, but hopefully we can have some influence on what will happen in the future,” he said. “We want to show that this kind of hateful speech is not acceptable.”
For more information on Sunday’s program, call the Glen Rock Jewish Center at (201) 652-6624.