Police in California have launched an investigation after a synagogue had been vandalized in the city of Beverly Hills on Saturday.
The Nessah Synagogue's security staff arrived for their shift early Saturday morning and found the place had been ransacked, with Torah scrolls descecrated and furniture damaged. The staff alerted the police and no artifacts appeared to have been stolen from the building.
Police say they are searching for a man caught on video breaking into the synagogue and ransacking it at around 2 am on Saturday. Police said they are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
The law enforcement officials ordered to bolster security in the area and released photos of the suspect, identified as male - between 20 and 25 years old - short hair, slim, wearing sunglasses, short pants and sporting a backpack.
Police bolstered security in the area and released photos of the suspect, identified as a 20-25-year male, short hair, slim, wearing sunglasses, short pants and sporting a backpack.
“The suspect damaged several Jewish relics, but fortunately the Synagogue’s main scrolls survived unscathed,” police said in a statement.
“This cowardly attack hits at the heart of who we are as a community,” Beverly Hills Mayor John Mirisch said.
Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles tweeted that he was "shocked and outraged" over the vandalism. " We will stand together and speak out strongly against any act of hate and intolerance in our community."
The Beverly Hills synagogue was established in shared space in 1980 to serve Iranian Jews, many of whom fled religious persecution following Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979.
The city of Beverly Hills calls Nessah "the largest Persian-Jewish congregation in the United States."
About one in five of the city's 34,000 residents are thought to have Iranian heritage.
Local residents, some of the parishioners of the synagogue, went to social media on Saturday evening to express their distaste and fear for the attack.
"What does it mean to be a Beverly Hills Jews in 2019?", said a post by local resident Ted Fletcher. "It feels like a sin posting these photos. No, this is not Poland in 1930… this was taken yesterday in Beverly Hills, California."
The vandalism follows more than a year's worth of nationwide attacks and threats on locations associated with Jewish communities, including the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in October 2018, the alleged hate crime shooting at a Southern California synagogue last April, an alleged plot to blow up a Colorado synagogue revealed last month, and last Tuesday's deadly attack in a New Jersey kosher supermarket, which resulted in the deaths of one police officer and three Jewish locals.
I24NEWS contributed to this report
First published: 10:20 , 12.15.19