After two spray-painted swastikas emerged in a Texas neighborhood — one on a rabbi's vehicle and another on a fence — residents have come together to offer a $1,500 reward to whoever helps catch the culprit.
"It’s horrible. It’s abhorrent," David Schneider, president of the Highlands of McKamy, a homeowners association in Dallas, Texas, told KTVT-TV. "And I want to see that person brought to justice and they should pay for what they’ve done."
Schneider has joined his fellow neighbors in offering the reward, creating a unified stance that marks a major departure from the division that has raged in the community over the presence of a synagogue that meets inside of a local home — a weekly gathering that Schneider previously sued to stop.
A second swastika discovered in Dallas neighborhood. Rabbi's car targeted last week. Neighbors offering reward. 10:00 pic.twitter.com/GznAibSYob— Robbie Owens (@cbs11Robbie) March 17, 2015
But with the recent presence of swastikas in the neighbored, the homeowners association president has come forward to defend his Jewish neighbors and to bring those responsible to justice.
It was reported last week that Rabbi Yaakov Rich, who worships at the home, discovered that a swastika had been spray painted onto his car. Then, over the weekend, a second swastika was found on a fence.
"As a Jew, the swastika is the most offensive symbol that there is. They didn’t just attack me, they attacked every Jew in the City of Dallas," Rich said after the symbol was found on his car. "I am very grateful, however, that the members of Congregation Toras Chaim are banding together to ensure that there is no disruption in our activities."
These developments come one month after a judge tossed out a complaint from Schneider, who sought to stop the meetings being held by the Orthodox Jewish group, arguing that traffic and parking could become problematic if the group continued meeting in the neighborhood.=
Schneider also cited fears over selling his home if prospective buyers learn that he’s “right across the street from a church or synagogue.”
Collin County Judge Jill Willis disagreed with Schneider’s sentiment ruling that the Orthodox Jewish worshippers can continue gathering in a private home, concluding — at least for the moment — a battle that began in 2013 over homeowners association rules.
The group began meeting in the Highlands of McKamy neighborhood back in 2011, with Schneider later claiming that the house was not being properly used as a mere residence. He subsequently sued homeowner Judith Gothelf, her son Mark and Toras Chaim, the congregation at the center of the dispute, according to the Dallas Morning News.
“What this means is any church can move into any derestricted neighborhood in the entire state of Texas, regardless of any agreements that are made,” Schneider said after the judge’s ruling.
While that lawsuit was dismissed in February, the city of Dallas has also sued now, arguing that improvements must be made to the house if the owners continue to host religious meetings there.