A west Hamilton synagogue was spray-painted with an anti-Semitic slur Wednesday night, in an incident that police are calling a hate crime.

Around 7 a.m., someone noticed graffiti on the entrance to the Adas Israel Congregation of Hamilton on Cline Avenue, which is attached to the Hamilton Hebrew Academy, a Westdale Jewish school.

The tag, sprayed in black, contained an anti-Semitic epithet, police said.

Surveillance footage captured video of the suspect, who is described as male, five-foot-six to five-foot-eight, 170 to 200 lbs., wearing baggy pants, a hooded sweatshirt and sandals.

Police are asking anyone with information on the vandalism to contact Division One detectives at 905-546-3883 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

'We need to be vigilant'

Daniel Green, a rabbi at the synagogue, told CBC Hamilton that congregants going to an early morning service saw the graffiti. Police were then called, he said, and the spray-painting was promptly removed. 

"Fewer than 10 people saw it," Green said. "It would not have had the effect I think the vandal would like have had." 

He said Adas Israel experiences vandalism "every few years," but noted he doesn't believe the incidences are becoming more frequent.

"However, I think there are elements in society that are anti-Semitic that have strong prejudices and we need to be vigilant against them."

In addition, he lauded the police for responding quickly to calls about anti-Semitic vandalism. 

"We’re in a strong position in this county so long as the authorities are providing liberty and safety for everyone." 

Website attack

This is at least the second suspected hate crime targeted at a Jewish institution to occur in the last month. On Sept. 11, the website of the Kahila Jewish Community Day School was hacked.

Peter Greenberg, the school’s principal, told CBC Hamilton that an anti-Israel cartoon and message was posted to the website.

The cartoon depicted a woman in a hijab crying over the body of a small child, also wearing a hijab. The child is lying in a coffin and is draped in what appears to be a Palestinian flag. On the coffin, there is a Star of David, and the words “ISRAHELL INC.”

Greenberg said that the defacement was noticed by a school employee early in the morning on September 12, and the website was taken down immediately. As of Friday afternoon the site had not returned to normal operation.

A letter was sent to parents explaining the incident.

Greenberg, who said he was unaware of any similar incidents targeting the tiny, 32-student JK-Grade 5 school in the past, noted that he does not believe that the date — 9/11 — was a coincidence.

"I don't know who did this, but we just can't tolerate this type of hate.”