Police are investigating a possible hate crime in Brooklyn where mezuzahs were burned off the doorframes of at least a dozen apartments inside a public housing building, according to law enforcement sources.
Police received the call at 85 Taylor St. in Williamsburg Monday afternoon, and hate crime investigators joined officers at the scene. They are reviewing security video as part of the probe.
“The mezuzahs appear to have been burned with either a lighter or perhaps a lighter with accelerant, or some type of blowtorch,” said City Councilman Stephen Levin. “They were severely burned.”
A mezuzah is an object inscribed with Hebrew verses that is affixed to doorways outside Jewish homes.
“You can’t retire for the night unless you have a mezuzah on your door, and if it’s been desecrated like this, a religious family can’t actually go to bed at night,” said Levin.
85 Taylor Street is a public housing apartment building is in the heart of Williamsburg, a Brooklyn neighborhood with a very large Hasidic Jewish population.
Jewish law requires that Jews must attach a mezuzah to their their door posts (other than to bathrooms or closets too small to qualify as a room). The mezuzah contains several portions of the Torah on a piece of parchment. An affixed mezuzah to the door is pretty much an indication that the resident is Jewish. Thus, this attack is a direct and tangible sign of a hate crime - the targets were those of the Jewish faith.
In other words, burning the mezuzah is akin to burning a Koran or urinating on a Bible. It’s pure unadulterated hate.
To top this off, the attacks occurred on Holocaust Remembrance Day and at least one of the residents of the apartment building was a Holocaust survivor.
The NYPD is investigating this as a hate crime, and we can only hope that they catch the perpetrator(s) soon.