Police are investigating a possible hate crime after two men stuck an anti-Israel message on the door of a Jewish synagogue in north Colorado Springs over the weekend.

Surveillance footage shows the men walking up to Chabad Lubavitch of Southern Colorado just before 1:30 a.m. Saturday and placing a "FIGHT TERROR, NUKE ISRAEL" sticker on the center's front door. Both men disappeared into the night, but not before one of them took a picture of the message.

"He seems very proud and happy with his hate," Rabbi Moshe Liberow said.

The sticker has since been removed.

Liberow and a member of his congregation first noticed the message Saturday morning before a Torah class.

Their initial reaction of "shock" led them to call the police, who, the rabbi said, are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

A police spokesman could not be reached Sunday for comment.

Liberow said this wasn't the first time he has experienced an act of hate toward him and his community.

A few years ago, he found a swastika - a symbol of Nazi Germany - sprayed on a menorah outside his Colorado Springs home.

In October, the previous Chabad Lubavitch center was damaged by a fire, and the center moved before Passover in April to a storefront at the same shopping center on Rockrimmon Boulevard near Interstate 25.

Liberow said the possible hate crime won't stop the center from teaching the public about Jewish values and holding religious celebrations.

"We cannot live our life in fear, although it was definitely something that caused fear," he said. "The point is not only move on but grow and expand and reach out more and more and just spread the message of goodness. A little light dispels a huge amount of darkness."

In the past year, Colorado and the rest of the nation have seen a rise in reports of hate crimes, led by anti-Semitic incidents and attacks on immigrants and Muslims. Vandalism has been reported at Jewish cemeteries across the country, and bystanders have recorded and posted online racist rants they've witnessed in businesses.

Most recently, a white man who became irate after someone spilled a drink on him outside a Starbucks in Chicago was caught on video shouting "Shut up, slave," at a black bystander.

Some have attributed the rise to the campaign rhetoric and election of President Donald Trump, who has vowed to build a wall on the border with Mexico and has sought to ban travelers from six predominantly Muslim countries.

In Denver in November, a transgender woman found her vehicle spray-painted with hate messages and swastikas. Tagged on the hood of the car was "Trump."

Trump has condemned some of the incidents, vowing to confront anti-Semitism during a recent trip to Israel, and calling "unacceptable" the fatal stabbing of two men who confronted a white supremacist harassing Muslim girls on a Portland train last month.

Editorial assistant

Chhun Sun is the editorial assistant of the four Pikes Peak Newspapers. A Thailand-born Cambodian-American, he joined The Gazette's staff in April 2015 — covering everything from public safety to sports and outdoors to local/state politics.

Load comments