Broken Glass and a Vandal is Arrested

smashed window in Highland Park, New Jersey
Photo by Mason Resnick: Smashed window of Park Place in Highland Park, New Jersey

Yesterday a friend posted online that she had just finished reading The Book Thief and then she discovered five Jewish businesses in Highland Park had their windows smashed overnight. Shortly thereafter Mason Resnick posted these Kristalnacht like photos on Facebook. The end of the story was a disturbed individual was arrested.

I will be visiting the Judaica Gallery today because I need to make a purchase for my daughter – at least those of us that are local can support the businesses that were targeted. Rutgers Hillel and Chabad in New Brunswick also were targeted with smashed glass, as well as the restaurant Maoz. The Highland Park businesses were Jerusalem Pizza, Park Place, Judaica Gallery, Trio Gifts and Jack’s Hardware. Maybe I should go buy some light bulbs at Jack’s.

A big thank you to the Highland Park police for their quick and decisive action regarding this crime.

Update: A Letter from Mayor Steve Nolan (it ends with: “As a community, we are much stronger than a pane of glass could ever be.” – bravo)

Update: An excerpt from a letter from Rutgers Hillel director Andrew Getrauer:

Wednesday morning at 2 AM a Jewish Rutgers student, very
involved in Hillel, was at the kosher Dunkin’ Donuts in Highland Park,
when a man approached him and started a conversation about Jewish
issues. He identified himself as Jewish. This deteriorated into a rant
where the man also declared himself a neo-Nazi and told the student he
should be in a camp and killed like his ancestors, and that he would
start a ‘second Kristalnacht.’ At this point the Dunkin Donuts staff
threw the man out of the store.

Wednesday morning Highland Park woke up to find 5 Jewish-owned
stores with windows broken; 2 Judaica stores, 2 kosher restaurants, and
a hardware store owned by an Orthodox man. A Jewish-owned falafel
restaurant in New Brunswick was also targeted. Hillel staff contacted
the student who had encountered the man at Dunkin Donuts and made sure
he was in touch with police. Hillel staff contacted the ADL and New
Brunswick police to help connect the dots between the various incidents.
There was wide spread anxiety throughout the local community, expressed
thru constant phone calls, emails, Facebook and twitter messages. To
give you a sense of the feeling at the time, people were calling it
“Kristalnacht in New Jersey.”

More details were reported in the Star Ledger, New Jersey Jewish News and other press.

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13 thoughts on “Broken Glass and a Vandal is Arrested

  • Horrible to think of this happening in New Jersey in 2011, it seems the world has learned nothing at all in the last 66 years. I’m relieved that they caught him, and hope that the community at large speaks out against hatred and violence and in support of tolerance and inclusion.

    • As someone pointed out on Facebook, this is not the first time an unstable individual has caused problems. Unfortunately, there are too many mentally disturbed people in New Brunswick, even if this is unique in being an antisemitic incident. I think she had a good point – mental illness takes a toll on society.

  • I am “glad” (for want of a better word really) that only one person was involved but am also horrified at all the rumors that surrounded those hate crimes. This is frightening (also obviously not for the same reasons) too.

    • So it turns out the guy 1) was Jewish and 2) he actually used to come into Rabbi Shimoni’s store, Judaica Gallery, so Rabbi Shimoni knew him.

      Seems like this is more about mental illness.

  • I guess it’s better that it was mental illness? It is so hard to protect society from severe and dangerous mental illness because it is difficult to make people get help and to take their meds. Then we have these horrible things happening…..

    • Michelle,
      You bring up excellent points. If you think back to the real Kristalnacht, then, yes, the problems of mental illness pale in comparison. But if you look at current crises (Jared Loughner comes to mind as a most heinous recent example), mental illness is a terrible problem.

      Sometimes the meds themselves are problematic, too.

      I’ll keep listening to others – some people have good ideas.

      • I was thinking of that case in particular.. yes..meds can be overly prescribed and the side effects difficult. It took a long time to find a med I could take for depression that didn’t interfere or make things worse with my other meds….

  • People who commit hate crimes – no matter who they are – need help. It’s very sad indeed that humans are so cruel to one another, whether the offender is mentally ill or not. I’m sorry that this happens anywhere but especially sorry that it has happened in Highland Park. All the best, Leora!

    • Good points. If it were Nazi Germany, however, we would be powerless to help (other than fighting the war, which we eventually did)…the whole nation was corrupted.

      FYI, I was the only one to use the term “mental illness” – officially, the only term I’ve heard used is “disturbed.”

  • Yes, “disturbed” seems to be the “politically correct” replacement for calling it what it is: mental illness. What is disturbing is how as a society we want to sweep things like this under the rug, so to speak. To change the metaphor: “Move along folks! Nothing to see here!”

    Your Kristalnacht analogy is fitting in «Louis’» mind, never mind that the perpetrator of this is Jewish. We as a nation are becoming increasingly corrupted.

  • How frightening! Sorry that I only just saw this now. I’m relieved that no one was physically injured, but still – this must have been very difficult for the entire community!

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