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Turn away from hatred and violence

In a town long welcoming to people of varying ethnic backgrounds, a shocking report was revealed in a single sentence in a police report in early November. Regrettably, it was overlooked.

The sentence said police were told on Nov. 12 several swastikas had been carved into a benches in the Heights.

Police Chief Jim Read rightly said the department takes hate incidents and antisemitism seriously and the report remains under investigation. He encourages anyone with information to contact Police.

Sadly, we are living in an era where hate speech and violent actions are all too prevalent.

That the carvings were relatively small — one the size of a quarter and another the size of a 50-cent piece — doesn’t change the offensiveness of their appearance here as it would not in any community.

The offender or offenders need to be taught a lesson in tolerance and the importance of embracing our diversity and our similarities.

Rabbi Steven Leder of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles appeared on the CBS Sunday Morning program this past weekend, Ten years ago he spoke from the pulpit advising Jewish people to abandon victimization and a belief concentration camps could be right around the corner.

But recent events fill him with an anxiety.

“The line between free speech and Jew hating is hard to define, but . . . you know it when you feel it,” Rabbi Leder said. “A lot of us are feeling it and it is heartbreakingly sad” and more sad when it comes from people in other marginally groups, he said.

“More important than our differences are the ways in which we are the same,” he said. To believe otherwise is a danger to the nation and to peoples’ lives, he said.

“I still believe in America, but lately it feels like we are on the wrong road shamefully headed in the wrong direction,” Rabbi Leder said.

We appeal to each of you to reach into your heart and truly embrace the differences and similarities in others, assuring the lesson we teach our children by our words and actions will make for a better world, not a world filled with hatred and violence.