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Vandalism Strikes South Jersey Eatery

April 13, 2006 By:
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Vandalism has struck a South Jersey kosher restaurant several times this year, but when fresh symbols of hate were scrawled recently on the side of the establishment, the owner decided he had to take action.

"This is the third time in the past three months," said Jacob Ben-Shitrit, owner of Jerusalem Glatt Kosher Restaurant in Ventnor, N.J. "I didn't [pay] attention … when they cut my tires or made other graffiti on the wall. But when there are those kind of markings, directed at my religion, I have to complain to the police."

Ben-Shitrit said he left the afternoon of March 31 for Shabbat and when he arrived back at the mediterranean restaurant he has owned for the past 11 years on Sunday morning, two pink swastikas were scrawled on an outside wall.

"It's a terrible thing and hopefully this is just an isolated incident," said Elliot Nehmad, president of Orthodox Congregation Rodef Sholom in nearby Atlantic City. "We don't normally have any blatant anti-Semitism, but there's always an undercurrent."

Nehmad did say that several years ago, headstones were knocked over in Rodef Sholom's cemetery.

Ben-Shitrit said the mayor of Ventnor - a tourist destination popular in the summer with Philadelphians, many of them Jewish - stopped by and offered a $500 reward for any information leading to the arrests of the vandals.

According to Lt. Michael Miller, the detective bureau commander of the Ventnor Police Department, the defacing is still under investigation and has been classified as a biased incident.

Miller said anti-Semitism isn't really a problem in the community and that his police department deals with "no more than a handful of these per year."

Ben-Shitrit said he will not be deterred by the crime: "We are Israeli, so we are not taking it too seriously. We aren't scared of anything."

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