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Edison, NJ - After Pattern of Bias Crimes Rabbi Wants Parents to be Responsible

Published on: December 30, 2009 09:00 PM
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Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg of Congregation Beth-El in Edison Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg of Congregation Beth-El in Edison

Edison, NJ - Months after a series of anti-Semitic attacks and acts of vandalism rocked the Jewish community in Middlesex County, a new rash of incidents has Rabbi Bernhard Rosenberg of Congregation Beth-El in Edison asking lawmakers to hold parents responsible for the bias crimes committed by their teenage children.

“I’m calling for legislation to not only hold the kids responsible but to hold the parents financially responsible. They should be made to pay a major fine. Otherwise I think we’re chasing our tails,’’ Rosenberg said. “I’m tired about hearing about swastikas.’‘

Township police Wednesday said they’re investigating the origin of a swastika that was found scrawled on a bathroom door in the Edison Public Library.

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An employee of the Plainfield Avenue branch discovered the drawing, which is up to 18 inches in diameter, Lt. Sal Filannino said Wednesday. No arrests have been made.

There was also a report of windows shattered at a Metuchen synagogue two weeks ago. Metuchen police and the congregation’s president did not return calls for comment.

Rosenberg’s congregation was targeted on Sept. 29 by vandals who spray-painted large blue swastikas, symbols of the anti-Semitic Nazis, on the front of the building. The symbols were found the morning after the end of the holy Jewish holiday Yom Kippur.

That same day, Highland Park police arrested a Somerset County teenager on charges he leaned out of a vehicle on Raritan Avenue, shouted “Hail Hitler,’’ and gave a Nazi salute to three Jewish residents.

A few weeks earlier on Rosh Hashanah an Edison teenager was accused of punching a Jewish man on Woodbridge Avenue near Route 1. The 16-year-old was charged with juvenile counts of aggravated assault and bias intimidation.

The investigations into the graffiti at the congregation as well as Nazi symbols left at Paterniti Park in October are still under investigation, Filannino said.

“I’m convinced the police are not going to catch these kids. But if we do catch them I’d like to set an example,’’ Rosenberg said a day after reading in the Home News Tribune about an 11-year-old Jewish boy being hit with pennies by a bully at Woodbridge Middle School.

Rosenberg said there might be a spike in anti-Semitic crimes because “the tendency is to blame the Jews when the economy goes wrong.’‘

“I don’t think they (the children) wake up hating Jews. It all comes from their parents,’’ he said. “But until there is legislation to actually go after the parents, it’s not going to stop.’’



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Read Comments (6)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Dec 30, 2009 at 10:02 PM Anonymous Says:

The courts have struck down many prior efforts to hold parents responsible for vandalism by their teen age children when the parents have made reasonable efforts to control them. In most of these cases, the kids are out of control and not responsive to the parents. It is the responsibility of the shuls and beis medrashim to protect their own property with proper security.

2

 Dec 30, 2009 at 10:05 PM Anonymous Says:

"Kids do not wake up hating jews it comes from their parents." shema b'nee musar avichu v'al titosh toras imechu. yes even in the secular world kids learn from their parents, whether they tell them outright to hate jews or just hear the side comments. and i no doubt believe they pick it up in school too. But he makes a valid point by making parents responsible for their kids actions it will take toll and will stop eventually.

3

 Dec 30, 2009 at 10:06 PM Anonymous Says:

kol hakovod to rabbi rosenberg. such legislation while difficult to pass would definetly cut down on these hate crimes and crimes in general. ask your politicans to push it for all crimes, pushing for antisemetic crimes only, will never come to be.

4

 Dec 30, 2009 at 10:07 PM 5T Resident Says:

I also think an example should be made out of the kid, but not the example the rabbi suggests.

5

 Dec 30, 2009 at 11:46 PM Avi Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

The courts have struck down many prior efforts to hold parents responsible for vandalism by their teen age children when the parents have made reasonable efforts to control them. In most of these cases, the kids are out of control and not responsive to the parents. It is the responsibility of the shuls and beis medrashim to protect their own property with proper security.

Teenagers are not the responsibility of their parents, and yet they are not treated as adults. What a disgrace for a legal system this country has.

6

 Dec 31, 2009 at 08:40 AM Anonymous Says:

Till they are 18 years old they are the responsibility of the parents. 16 and 17 is a grey area., but still the responsibility of the parents.

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