(JTA) – A banner with an anti-Semitic slur hung over a synagogue’s Holocaust memorial and fliers left on cars in a New Jersey township are related to the arrest of several area haredi Orthodox couples for welfare fraud, police said.
The incidents occurred over the weekend in Lakewood, where at least seven haredi Orthodox couples were arrested last week for underreporting their incomes to receive government benefits, including a rabbi and his wife as well as his brother and his wife.
The banner hung at Congregation Sons of Israel reads “(((Heebs))) will not divide us,” using the anti-Semitic echo symbol popularized by the “alt-right” to highlight Jewish names. Heebs stands for Hebrews and is used as an ethnic slur against Jews. The banner also lists a website for a white supremacist group.
Anti-Semitic fliers referencing the arrests were placed on cars throughout the township as well, the Asbury Park Press reported.
New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino in a tweet posted Sunday called the incidents “sickening.” He also reminded the public of the $10,000 reward from the state for information that leads to a bias crime conviction.
The incidents are being investigated as hate crimes.
“We do believe that this recent rash of anti-Semitic incidents is directly related to the recent arrests in our town. We have not had any other incidents before,” Lakewood Police Chief Gregory Meyer told the Asbury Park Press. “We will not tolerate this kind of behavior and we are working with (the) state and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office in an attempt to make arrests. We will look to prosecute all incidents of bias crimes that take place against our citizens.”