Only a handful of people saw the derogatory slur spray-painted across the doors of the Adas Israel Synagogue on Cline Avenue South — an act police are calling a hate crime.
When Rabbi Daniel Green arrived around 7 a.m. Thursday, he and another man quickly covered the bold, black letters before the congregation arrived.
They didn't want to panic the community — including parents and students at the attached Hamilton Hebrew Academy — but also, he said, "Sometimes you don't want to give people the satisfaction."
Unbeknownst to the perpetrator, the incident was caught on tape — even as he "casually" walked away from the scene, toward Main Street West. Hamilton police believe the suspect may be a young offender and have not released the surveillance.
Thanks to a $32,096 security grant the synagogue received from the federal government last year, the property is surrounded with cameras.
"This was the exact reason that it was given for," Green said Thursday afternoon, once police had distributed a description of the suspect.
He said he is thankful the community was spared from seeing the hateful word on their place of worship, but is saddened that it happened at all.
This type of hate is a reality, he says — even in Hamilton and even in the year 2013.
There were 161 reported hate-related events in the city last year, and 16 hate crimes — five classified as mischief/graffiti. Of those, three were targeting a religion.
"This is a reality that we live with and we have to be vigilant, on guard, and take every precaution," said Green, who has been rabbi at the synagogue for 12 years, and whose father, Morton, was rabbi there before him.
Asked what he would say to the perpetrator, he hesitated.
"Police are vigilant, and the fact that this is even newsworthy is something which we are very appreciative of as a community … I think with the full force of the community behind us, we'll be able to overcome anti-Semitism," he said.
Police have not released a screen shot of the suspect, but have described him as 5-foot-6 to 5-foot-8, between 170 and 200 pounds with a medium build.
He wore baggy track pants, a hooded sweatshirt and sandals.
Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call Divisional Detectives at 905-546-3833, or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).