Hundreds of community members recently came out to Schamltz Delicatessen to show their support for the Jewish Deli, after it was vandalized on Sunday June 18. But the Schmaltz staff decided to turn the event into a fundraiser for UCARE, a non-profit working to stop hate in our community, as a way to thank everyone for their support.
“What I found the most in the last week is you find out who your friends are and who your friends’, friends are when they all come out and try to support you,” said Howard Bender, who owns Schmaltz Delicatessen along with his wife Kathie. “A lot of the organizations around here made big bold statements against the hate, and they were happy to put their names on it, and that meant the world to us.”
Earlier in the week, bender explained the incident in his own words.
“As best we as a staff can figure, sometime mid-afternoon to close, a vandal came to the front of our store and spray painted what was intended to be an anti-Semitic comment on the concrete almost right in front of the door of the store,” said Bender.
The phrase, which is now cleaned up, read “Free Gaza.”
“This is far less about the complexity of world issues and complexity of countries outside of ours and our opinions,” said Bender. “It’s not about what they painted, it really is about the fact that somebody targeted an American Jewish business in Naperville, Illinois and it was purely intended to be anti-Semitic.”
As soon as the vandalism was discovered, Schmaltz staff contacted the Naperville Police Department, who is currently investigating the incident as a hate crime, which is a Class 4 Felony for the first offense.
“We asked the store owner to retrieve and secure the video from the restaurant in case the offender’s caught on video. So we’re trying to work through those issues and find any available video not only from that store but other stores in the area,” said Public Information Officer with the Naperville Police Department, Lou Cammisso.
Schmaltz Deli shared news of the act on their Facebook page that evening, in a post that has garnered around 3,000 likes, comments and shares.
“Friends and family from around the country and clergy from multiple religious groups saying that they stand behind us, and customers coming in all day so far today saying ‘I heard this happened, we have your back.’ And that’s wonderful, that’s wonderful to hear,” said Bender.
Bender has vowed to speak out against the crime, in hopes that it prevents other hate crimes from happening in our community.
“We want the community to know that there is hate happening amongst our businesses and our children and this has got to stop,” said Bender. “The only way it’s going to stop is if we speak up really loud.”
The Naperville Crime Stoppers are offering up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the responsible party.
Naperville News 17’s Evan Summers reports.
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