“While the damage to the building is minimal and will be fixed quickly, events like this can throw even the toughest person into a tailspin. Given the current climate, we unfortunately are not surprised by this happening,” three rabbis from Sixth & I, the historic Washington synagogue named for its downtown street address, wrote in an email to community members on Monday afternoon. The email cited rising hate crimes against many groups, including Jews.
Soon after the synagogue announced the crime to the community, D.C. police spokesman Hugh Carew told The Washington Post that police had arrested Luis Montsinos, of no fixed address. In a police report, officers described the vandalism as a suspected hate crime.
Staff at the synagogue building, which hosts a wide range of prayer services and communal events, showed photos of the vandalism to The Post. The damage included the word “JEW” carved into a door and swastikas scrawled in red ink on a staircase.
In emails to the synagogue community, Rabbis Shira Stutman, Aaron Potek and Jesse Paikin anticipated that some Jews would react emotionally to the damage. “In these moments, it’s important to remember that it is not a shame but an honor to be a Jew,” the rabbis wrote. “We can and will respond to this hateful act with open doors, in resilience and spirit, living Jewish lives of joy, optimism, and pride.”
This post has been updated to include an arrest in the incident.