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Originally published Sunday, September 13, 2009 at 5:21 PM

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Seward Park area synagogues defaced with swastikas

Sometime Saturday night or early Sunday, someone painted red swastikas on two synagogues in the Seward Park neighborhood, according to Seattle Police and synagogue members.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Sometime Saturday night or early Sunday, someone painted red swastikas on two synagogues in the Seward Park neighborhood, according to Seattle Police and synagogue members.

Sarah Rivkin, a member of the Bikur Cholim Machzikay Hadath synagogue on Morgan Street, saw the graffiti Sunday morning, and said the side entrance had a swastika and the words "4th Riech."

"The person was moderately illiterate," said Rivkin, noting the correct spelling of Reich.

She also saw the word "Nazi" painted in red and at least eight swastikas in the area.

Rivkin said people were inside the synagogues late Saturday night during the incident, praying and preparing for the upcoming Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year, which starts Friday at sundown.

"We have a choice: do we take this as just another attack and feel like we're victims or do we choose to see it as a spiritual wakeup call," she said.

The Jewish New Year is a time for evaluation and reflection for people individually and as part of the Jewish community, she added.

Seattle police reported that the synagogues in the 5100 block of South Morgan Street and in the 6500 block of 52nd Avenue South, as well as a driveway and sidewalk near a home were defaced sometime Saturday night or early Sunday.

Josh Normand, a member of the defaced Sephardic Bikur Holim congregation, said he's disgusted.

"I'm not an alarmist," he said. "I'd like to be level-headed, but I like people to not have our heads in the sand."

Seattle Police report the private property owners were cleaning the graffiti from their property Sunday and transportation workers will be removing the graffiti from the public areas. The Seattle Police Department encourages anyone with information to call the Bias Crimes Unit at (206) 233-3898.

Christine Willmsen: 206-464-3261 or cwillmsen@seattletimes.com.

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