The Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia and the Little River United Church of Christ in Annandale, Virginia were the targets of vandalism in the form of swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti.
Fairfax County Police opened an investigation after the vandalism was discovered Tuesday.
On the exterior of the JCC building, the words “Hitler was right,” swastikas and the “SS” symbol were found spray-painted.
Jeff Dannick, the JCC’s director general, said he was upset that his community was targeted on Passover but noted the relevant lessons that the holiday provides for the incident.
“We retell that story generation to generation every year so that we never forget,” he told the Washington Post Tuesday. “It’s a painful reminder of how ugly and dangerous the world can be, but also how we can overcome it.”
The JCC released a statement Tuesday, saying, “We will not be deterred from our mission of being an open and welcoming place for people of all backgrounds as we continue our operations as normal.”
The church, which is less than a mile away from the JCC, was also vandalized with swastikas, as well as homophobic and Islamophobic slogans.
“Defend America; No Muslims,” was spray-painted across the church door. “Jesus knows no traitors” was written over the church’s Holy Week schedule, and a sign that read “Say NO to anti-Muslim bigotry” was crossed out.
“It’s just heartbreaking to see this kind of thing happen today,” Rev. Dr. David Lindsey told the local NBC station, saying that his church may have been targeted because of its openness to diversity.
Members of both the JCC and the church started to take down the graffiti on Tuesday.
Fairfax Police Spokeswoman Tawny Wright said the incidents occurred on Tuesday morning between 1 and 4 a.m. and that the department was looking for the suspects, including by reviewing surveillance footage.
“We are investigating it. It is a crime – not only to spray paint – but it’s a more severe penalty if the crime is bias-motivated like it is in these cases and we are working very diligently,” Wright told local reporters.