February 8, 2021
Dear Gonzaga Community:
We learned this afternoon, through media reports and the Spokane Police Department, that a hate crime occurred at the Temple Beth Shalom, here in Spokane. In response to a report from the Temple this morning, officers arrived on the scene and found one side of the building, along with a Holocaust memorial, damaged and defaced with anti-Semitic symbols (e.g., swastika evocative of the Nazi regime in World War II), in red spray-paint. The swastika is commonly associated with anti-Jewish sentiment and for many is a reminder of a terrifying period in world history, as well as countless acts of unspeakable horror.
The act of defacing religious property with words, symbols, or items that are derogatory to persons of the faith associated with the property is considered a hate crime under Washington statute. We at Gonzaga University stand in solidarity with the members of the Temple Beth Shalom, and all of our Jewish sisters and brothers in the Spokane regional community in calling out this behavior as completely unacceptable. This type of hate-motivated behavior has no place in our community or in this nation, which is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the free expression of all religious faith traditions. Desecration of a sacred space is completely unacceptable and we, as members of a faith-based community, denounce such acts in the strongest possible terms. Let us all take this incident as a reminder that anti-Semitic sentiment exists, and that it is our responsibility to stand against it, and any other acts of hatred, when they occur. And as a community of faith, we labor daily in pursuit of justice, confident in the belief that goodness, righteousness and truth will indeed ultimately prevail.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.