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Town Unites to Fight Anti-Semitic Graffiti

February 29, 1996

MAMARONECK, N.Y. (AP) _ When anti-Semitic graffiti threatened the sanctity of this suburb nicknamed ``The Friendly Village,″ neighbors banded together and resolved to fight.

``We’re just not going to stand for someone with the view that some people are not as good as others,″ said Lee Bloom, a resident for more than 40 years.

Since Feb. 17, seven houses _ six belonging to Jewish families _ have been spray-painted with ``Kill the Jews″ and ``Burn the Jews.″ In nearby Scarsdale and Pleasantville, two public menorahs were vandalized in December and a swastika was carved into a library table in January in Larchmont.

Police say they believe the Mamaroneck vandalism is the work of the same person or group.

To fight back, residents organized an interfaith march and forum Tuesday that attracted more than 2,000 people, many of them children who carried signs reading ``Stop the Hate″ and ``Come Together Now.″

Police patrols have been increased, and a $15,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest _ $5,000 each from the village, the Westchester Holocaust Commission and an unidentified donor.

In addition, Westchester County officials are preparing an ``anti-hate logo″ _ a dove with the phrase ``Many Faiths One Community″ incorporated into its body _ to be displayed by merchants and homeowners.

``I’ve never seen this kind of solidarity,″ Charles Seton, who lives in Larchmont and has a photography studio in Mamaroneck, said Wednesday. ``But then, there’s never been anything like this to galvanize the community.″

Located just north of New York City, this village of 18,000 is about 15 percent Jewish and 10 percent nonwhite, with a mix of the wealthy and the middle class.

In the 1890s, stone quarries attracted Italian immigrants, and the wealthy attracted Irish and other immigrants to work as servants and gardeners.

In 1947, Robert Derecktor opened a shipyard on Long Island Sound and brought over Portuguese boat builders who still craft ships of all kinds. Derecktor’s company built the yacht ``Stars & Stripes,″ which won the America’s Cup in 1987.

On Wednesday, the shadow of a black swastika was still visible through white cover-up paint neighbors used on Joan Silbergleit’s house. Her family was vacationing in Florida when their house was defaced.

``The community reaction has been wonderful,″ Mrs. Silbergleit said.

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