NEW YORK (Jun. 22)
Mayor Edward Koch has signed into law a bill imposing a minimum fine and increasing the maximum fine on anyone found guilty in New York City of damaging a house of worship.
In recent years, acts of vandalism against synagogues in New York City have occurred frequently. The new law also subjects to both imprisonment and a fine anyone who knowingly assists a vandal. The bill was introduced in the City Council by Queens Councilman Sheldon Leffler.
The bill raises the maximum fine from $500 under current law to $1,000 and for the first time imposes a minimum fine of $250. A spokesperson in Leffler’s office told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that to the best of the Councilman’s staff know ledge, the measure was the first of its kind. The City Council passed the Leffler measure unanimously on May 22.
Daniel Ginsburg, chairman of the New York regional board of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, lauded Leffler and the City Council, adding that “the psychological damage inflicted on the congregants of a vandalized house of worship can be as serious as the physical damage done to the property itself because it represents an assault on their most fundamental beliefs.”