CARMEL, Ind. — Hundreds of people from all different faiths gathered at a Carmel synagogue to show their love for the Jewish community after someone left hateful anti-Semitic graffiti on one of their buildings.
The ground was burned and swastikas and iron crosses were painted on a shed and garbage bins at Congregation Shaarey Tefilla on Saturday.
Rabbi Benjamin Sendrow says the graffiti may have been left to evoke fear, but as Monday night's gathering showed, it's had the opposite effect on their community.
"(It) triggered an outpouring of love and support that wipes away their action better than bleach and fresh paint," Sendrow said. "All they have done is awaken the sleeping giant of love and acceptance and mutual respect."
But in the midst of love, those hateful messages also serve as a reminder that Indiana is one of only five states that doesn't have a hate crime law — something Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and several other lawmakers vowed to fix in the upcoming legislative session.
Lindsey Mintz, Executive Director of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, says passing that law is more important now than ever, to "send a message."
"The state of Indiana from policy leaders on down will not stand for acts of hate based on bias," Mintz said.
Synagogue leadership says the graffiti will not be cleaned off right away so it can be preserved as evidence as Carmel police continue to investigate and follow all leads to find out who is responsible.