Steve Gold’s neighbor told him Monday morning he needed to show him something disturbing.
It was a Nazi Swastika painted on the street between their homes on Lady Godiva Way in New City. The symbol of hate painted in blue was quickly covered over by town workers.
“My parents were survivors of the concentration camps so when I saw that, it was like a stake going through my heart,” said Gold, who is a prominent Jewish community activist.
Gold’s neighbor, Dr. Norman Levine, saw the marking around 7:15 a.m., notified Gold and called the Clarkstown police. Levine said he felt sickened by what he saw.
“I felt threatened and violated in my own community, in front of my house,” said Levine. “I don’t think that’s an irrational response. I think anyone in my situation would feel that way.”
Gold thinks the symbol was drawn overnight because he said a lot of people were out in the neighborhood on Sunday. Although many of his neighbors are Jewish, Gold believes he was the target because a small dog figurine was missing from his property. He said police drove around the neighborhood and told him they did not find any other markings.
Neighbors voiced concern and were repulsed by the incident.
“It’s just really disturbing,” said one nearby resident. “ It’s just a lack of respect.”
She said when she had put out her garbage cans around 11 p.m. on Sunday night, she did not see anyone or hear anything.
Another neighbor who was driving by stopped to share her feelings.
“I never in my life heard anything so disgusting especially in front of the house of someone who does so much good,” she said.
Clarkstown Town Supervisor Alex Gromack issued a statement regarding the incident.
"This is a despicable act of anti-Semitism on our public roadway near the home of one of our distinguished leaders of the Jewish Community here in Clarkstown and Rockland County and his neighbor," said Gromack. “The Clarkstown Police Department is investigating this crime. This shocking act of hate is not tolerated in the Town of Clarkstown and we will not allow this kind of reprehensible act to go unpunished."
Gold is a vice president of JCC Rockland in West Nyack and chairs the Munich 11 Minute of Silence Campaign. He is incoming president of the Rockland Jewish Federation. He and his wife Helene are being honored by the Rockland Holocaust Museum & Study Center later this month with its Leadership Award.
“This was done to rattle,” said Gold. “They took the time to do it because it was pretty perfect.”
The Holocaust Museum released a statement on the symbol which was described as a "manifestation of hate and ignorance is something that cannot be tolerated." It noted that Rockland County is one of the most diverse communities in New York State.
Museum President Paul Galan said, "The Museum tries to teach tolerance and the history of the Holocaust to our community for exactly this reason. We cannot allow the resurgence of such acts to persist in our midst. The entire community of Rockland should stand together, rise as one and voice its revulsion at the existence of the elements of hate, division and intolerance in our community. The Holocaust Museum & Study Center is proud to be and will continue to be at the forefront of fighting the perpetrators and enemies of peace, tolerance and unity throughout the world and in Rockland County.
Gold said he takes the incident very seriously.
“It shows that we can’t forget,” he said.
Senator David Carlucci spoke against the incident.
"I strongly condemn this horrific act of anti-Semitism that has been directed towards one of the staunchest advocates for the Jewish community in the Town of Clarkstown," said Carlucci. "Hatred and vandalism cannot go unpunished by those who seek to instill fear in our community. Those who perpetrated these acts must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law."
The Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot began Sunday night. Many Jewish organizations are closed today for observance of the holiday.
Clarkstown police said it is unknown whether this incident is a random act or a targeted act. The incident is being investigated as a hate crime and anyone with information regarding this incident is encouraged to contact the Clarkstown Police Department at 845-639-5800 or the anonymous Tips Line at 877-639-6233.
Police said an asterisk symbol was also painted nearby on a manhole cover in the same blue spraypaint.