Potomac synagogue, businesses vandalized

Police released this image of a car in the parking lot of Fortune Terrace shopping center at the time of the vandalisms.

A synagogue in Potomac and two nearby businesses were vandalized, authorities said.{ }Eight windows at the temple had been shot at with an apparently very powerful BB gun. About a mile up 7 Lock Road, windows at a clothing boutique and at the Robert Bernard jewelry store were broken in the same way. It’s believed the vandalism happened overnight.

A vandalism also occurred at nearby Julius West Middle School, 651 Great Falls Road.

Police are investigating the vandalisms as possible hate crimes. The first incident was reported to Rockville City Police in the early morning hours Monday at Julius West Middle School, where six windows were damaged as the result of apparent BB gun projectiles. Two businesses at Fortune Terrace Shopping center reported similar damage.

Surveillance photographs from Fortune Terrace Shopping Center show a gold two door vehicle in the area at the time these vandalisms occurred.

Monday morning, as families participated in the ceremony of burning levened bread before passover, a glass technician was measuring up the damage done to the Beth Shalom Temple. The large plate glass windows were shattered, but the congregation's president-elect says their spirit is not.

“Trouble is if somebody lost their life. Trouble is if somebody lost health. Windows cost us a few bucks we don't have to get fixed, but they get fixed,” Stephen Bashein said.

Goldsmith George Kaufmann said he hopes it's just vandalism. “It’s hard for me to believe there'd be something that's anti-semitic towards us here,” Kaufmann said.

Back at the temple several people noted that there was no damage to several neighboring Christian churches and said with so many windows broken it seems the temple was targeted. Others said they will not let the attack affect their observation of passover, which begins at sundown tonight.

“I would only say if the person who did it is watching, that this week our bible reading includes the great passage ‘love your neighbor as thyself’,” said congregation leader Bashein.

Anyone who may have information about who is responsible for these vandalisms is asked to contact the 1st District Investigative Section at 240-773-6084. Those who wish to remain anonymous and qualify for a reward may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477), or at 240-773-8477. A cash reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest or indictment is available.