Synagogue Vandals Arrested in Mahopac

Rabbi Philip Fleischer of Temple Beth Shalom in Mahopac, N.Y. is satisfied that two local juveniles taken into custody by the police early Saturday are the vandals responsible for defacing his synagogue with swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti a week ago and two previous times.

The two, Andrei Fedoroff, 16, the son of a Russian Orthodox priest, and a 12-year-old friend, not identified because of his age, were arrested at 3 a.m. Saturday by Sgt. Gerald Schramek of the Carmel, N.Y. police department. He caught them in the act of spray-painting swastikas and “Heil Hitler” on the synagogue walls.

Fedoroff, a high-school dropout who lives with his parents at a Russian monastery about a mile from Temple Beth Shalom, was charged with three counts of aggravated harassment and three counts of criminal mischief. He was held in Putnam County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bail.

His companion was charged with juvenile delinquency and released in the custody of his parents.

Fleischer, who heads the 230-family Conservative congregation in suburban Mahopac, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Nov. 1 that he was convinced the desecrations were the work of professionals, rather than youthful vandals, because the graffiti were neatly applied and some of the slogans were in German.

He told the JTA Sunday, however, that the Fedoroff youth had made a full confession to three previous acts of vandalism against the temple.

The teen-ager had studied German in high school, was obsessed with the Nazi era and was a collector of Nazi memorabilia. When caught in the act of desecrating the synagogue, he was dressed in a brown SS uniform, black boots, goggles and carried an SS knife.

About 500 Jewish families live in Mahopac, a community in southern Putnam County. Fleischer said more Jews lived there years ago when the area was a summer resort. He said he knew of no neo-Nazi groups in the area.

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