A century-old synagogue in an Australian outback city has been defaced by antisemitic vandals.
Nazi and Islamic symbols were discovered on Monday on the building in Broken Hill, New South Wales, which no longer has a congregation and is maintained as an historic attraction.
Margaret Price, who looks after the Synagogue of the Outback Museum on behalf of the Broken Hill Historical Society, found the graffiti when she arrived to prepare for a visit by tourists.
She said: “I can only ever remember one other such attack about ten years ago when the building was daubed with swastikas on Hitler’s birthday and a bookstore was defaced in 2010 with Nazi symbols at this time of year as it featured items being shown in a Jewish promotion for Hanukkah.
“Although there is no Jewish presence in the city these days, I grew up with Jews and my family worked with them. They were Broken Hillers and a strong part of our community. We are dismayed by this scurrilous attack on the building on the very day of its 105th anniversary.”
The Broken Hill Synagogue was established for a small Jewish community in what was then a prosperous mining town, which lies in far west New South Wales, 400 km from Adelaide and 1500km from Sydney. Most Jews had left the city by the 1950s, and the building closed in 1962 until its reopening as a heritage centre in 1990.
The CEO of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies noted that the vandalism will end up depleting funds for other local historic buildings including a mosque.
Vic Alhadeff said: “The bigotry inherent in any such attack is exacerbated by the idiocy of the perpetrators. The Broken Hill Synagogue…is cared for by the same dedicated group of volunteers who take care of a mosque and two museums in the city, so attacking it impacts those other institutions too as funds will now have to be raised to remove the graffiti. All acts of racism are strongly condemned, and how much more so in a city which was built on its multicultural ethos, with Jews having a long and proud history in Broken Hill until recently.”
Detective Inspector Michael Stoltenberg, of Broken Hill’s police force, said: “The police are canvassing the area and making enquiries as to who did this to our synagogue. These sorts of incidents are not common in our area and we want it to stay that way.”