MARBLEHEAD — “Holocaust = Fake News,” blared the headline of a flyer found attached to the welcome sign at Temple Emanu-El on Monday morning.
A second anti-Semitic flyer was later found out back, leaving the community disturbed and saddened.
“It wasn’t just a random bit of graffiti. ... Somebody really made the effort to come down and send us a message,” said Rabbi David Meyer, who called police and notified the Anti-Defamation League.
Now, police are looking for a suspect by examining surveillance video from the temple, Chief Robert Picariello said. Police say they believe the hate literature was dropped sometime over the weekend. There was no damage to the building and no one gained entry.
“This is not what this town is about,” said Picariello, who said his heart goes out to the congregation and the Jewish community.
The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks hate crimes and other anti-Semitic incidents, attributed the hate literature to a local white supremacist Daily Stormer Book Club.
“ADL’s Center on Extremism has verified this incident to be part of a coordinated white supremacist flyer distribution campaign spanning multiple states and regions,” Robert Trestan, the ADL’s New England director, said in a statement. “We are aware of similar anti-Semitic flyer incidents at synagogues in Washington and Texas.”
Trestan said he was “deeply disturbed by this anti-Semitic attack. ... The temple was targeted in a deliberate and calculated manner for the sole purpose of sending a message of hate and intimidation to the community.”
According to the ADL, Daily Stormer Book Clubs are small local groups of young white men who follow Andrew Anglin and his The Daily Stormer website, which promotes, among other things, Holocaust denial and “vitriolic anti-Semitism.”
“It could be any temple in America,” said state Rep. Lori Ehrlich of Marblehead. “The lies posted at Temple Emanu-El are contemptible and insulting to the memory of the millions of lives that were lost in the Holocaust.”
She said the message was tied to a known hate group “that wants us to be afraid.”
“I know the strength of my community,” said Ehrlich. “We will not be afraid. We will not be afraid. We will call it out in the strongest terms.”
Temple Emanu-El recently underwent a renovation to its sanctuary, social hall, offices and public spaces, work that included security upgrades “because of the nature of the times.” Some of the temple’s perimeter security cameras captured footage the police are using in their investigation.
“The security continues to be a conversation among our leaders, and with me, of course,” Meyer said.
The temple recently worked with the office of U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton to submit a grant request to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for additional security upgrades, Meyer said.
“Security is a process. It doesn’t end,” he said.
Moulton, who grew up in Marblehead, said in an email, “I’ve spoken with Rabbi Meyer and am supporting the temple every way I can. Sadly, our community is not alone. For three years in a row — since President Trump sought office — hate crimes have risen substantially nationwide. We need to hold our leaders accountable for their words and actions, and demand better. There’s no excuse for this — America can do so much better.”
Despite sadness over the continuing rise in anti-Semitism, Meyer said he is comforted by the messages of support he has received from all over.
“And that’s always the silver lining,” he said, “that good people offering their concern can be a source of comfort and healing for us. ... It affirms the goodness in people is still brighter than the darkness around us.”
The police department took to Facebook Monday asking for residents’ help in identifying the suspects. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Theresa Gay at 781-631-1212.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews.