As workers at Woodcrest Country Club in Cherry Hill, NJ, sandblasted swastikas and offensive drawings off the walls of their clubhouse, police continued their investigation into what observers termed one of the worst displays of anti-Semitic vandalism they could recall. “This is the largest, most extensive incident I’m aware of in years,” said Alan Respler, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey. “Some of the writing was so obscene even the television cameras couldn’t tape it.”
Respler was called to the predominantly Jewish club over the weekend after maintenance workers discovered slurs and obscenities spray-painted in black and red on the building walls.
Woodcrest general manager Robert Sierra, who was one of the first to arrive on the scene after workers summoned him with an early-morning call, called the attack “anti-Semitic terrorism.”
Hate-filled graffiti covered much of the exterior of the club’s main building and was splashed over the sidewalk and a car left overnight at the club. In addition, black swastikas were painted on the grass at the 10th and 13th tees of the club’s golf course.
BELIEVED TO BE AN ISOLATED CASE
A police spokesman said Monday that because no other Jewish facility or synagogue was attacked and because his office has not heard of related incidents in any other local district, police believe the vandalism to be an isolated case.
No group or persons have called the media to take credit, and no other Jewish institution has been hit, so we’re looking at a local level,” said Cherry Hill Detective John Long.
“It may be juveniles, it may be young adults or it may be someone with problems with the club,” said Long, adding that police investigators are interviewing management personnel and employees of the 400-member club.
“To my recollection, this is the worst case of anti-Semitism in some time,” he said.
The country club has tripled its own security in the wake of the incident, said Dr. Philip Slipyan, president of the club’s Board. Long estimated the damage to the greens alone could run between $5,000 and $10,000, but Woodcrest officials declined to estimate the final cost of the vandalism. “The dollar figure really pales when you compare it with the frustration and anger,” Slipyan said.
CLUB AND JWV OFFER REWARD
The club has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandal or vandals. Lee Vegotsky, Southern New Jersey representative of the Jewish War Veterans, announced Sunday that his organization will add a $500 reward.
Respler said under New Jersey’s ethnic and racial terrorism law, persons convicted of ethnically or racially motivated vandalism can face up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Woodcrest, a member-owned club founded in 1929, draws its largely Jewish membership from Cherry Hill and surrounding communities, as well as from Philadelphia. It has been the victim of anti-Semitic attacks in the past, Slipyan said, but none quite so extensive or virulent.
As they gathered at the club in the wake of the most recent incident, many of the members commented on its timing: the fourth day of Passover, the day before Easter Sunday — traditionally a time when anti-Jewish sentiment tends to run high — and the week before Yom Hashoah, the commemoration of the Holocaust.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.