RACINE — A New Jersey man face federal charges for conspiracy to vandalize synagogues, including one in Racine. Richard Tobin, 18, has white supremacists ties, according to the FBI. He activated people to within his group in Wisconsin and Michigan.
Beth Israel Sinai Congregation on Washington Avenue in Racine does not often attract attention.
“We are just small. We are insignificant in the numbers. We have 25 people of 65 and older on fixed incomes,” said Rabbi Martyn Adelberg.
According to federal court records, Tobin belonged to a neo-Nazi group that wanted to see “acts of violence against minorities (including. African-Americans and Jewish American.)” One of the places chosen was Beth Israel Sinai in Racine.
The FBI said Tobin told members of his “Great Lakes Cell” to carrying out “Operation Kristallnacht.” He directed them to “tag the sh**” out of synagogues.”
On September 21, a synagogue in Hancock, Michigan was graffitied. The next day Beth Israel was targeted.
The FBI did not name the co-conspirators but said they emailed Tobin news articles about the graffiti afterwards. Rabbi Adelberg believes the extremists were trying a new tactic.
“You have already hit, like everything else, with propaganda, you have hit the bigger congregations. Let’s try something different,” said Adelberg.
The rabbi said this is a tactic to draw other extremists to their cause. But he thinks it did the opposite.
“What they hope is a small number of people could cause a lot of chaos. But the good news is they force other people to awaken that they should do the right thing,” said Adelberg.
Racine Police said they are still looking for the person responsible for the anti-Semitic graffiti. The synagogue is now raising money to add a security system to their building.