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Hate crime investigation: Police in California seek man wanted in ‘cowardly attack’ at Jewish synagogue

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Authorities are investigating a series of vandalism — including at a synagogue — that took place in Beverly Hills, California.

The vandalism at the Nessah Synagogue was discovered Saturday morning, Dec. 14 by an employee who said he found “an open door and items ransacked inside,” police said in a news release.

“The suspect disrupted the furnishings, and contents of the synagogue by overturning furniture and distributing brochures and materials throughout the interior,” the release said. He “damaged several Jewish relics, but fortunately, the Synagogue’s main scrolls survived unscathed.”

No one was inside at the time and no one was injured, the release said.

“This cowardly attack hits at the heart of who we are as a community,” Mayor John Mirisch said in a statement. “It is not just an attack on the Jewish Community of Beverly Hills; it’s an attack on all of us. The entire city stands in solidarity behind Nessah, its members and congregants.”

“We are committed to catching the criminal who desecrated a holy place on Shabbat of all days and bringing him to justice,” he said. “We are equally committed that our city will continue to be a welcoming place for Jews and for members of all religions and groups.”

Police are investigating the vandalism as a hate crime, the release said, but noted the man “left no markings or other overt signs of anti-Semitism.”

The man police are looking for was described as white, between 20 and 25 years old, with short, dark curly hair, and a thin build. He was possibly wearing prescription glasses. He carried a backpack and pulled a rolling suitcase, the release said.

Police believe the same man committed several minor acts of vandalism in the area before he reached the synagogue.

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