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Portsmouth temple again targeted with vandalism

Surveillance footage released by the Portsmouth Police show a man wielding a hammer outside of Temple Israel Monday evening.
Portsmouth Police Department
Surveillance footage released by the Portsmouth Police show a man wielding a hammer outside Temple Israel Monday evening, April 8, 2024.

Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying a man captured on video shattering two light sconces featuring the Star of David attached to the exterior of Temple Israel in downtown Portsmouth.

The incident occurred around 8:30 pm Monday.

“While we are a diverse city, encompassing many traditions, we are one neighborly community, said Rabbi Kaya Stern Kaufman. “We ask for everyone’s vigilance in combating hatred in all forms.”

Last February, the same temple was vandalized with spray painted swastikas as part of a broader spree that rattled religious leaders and led to an outpouring of support.

According to the temple, the light sconces were installed in 1921 as part of a major renovation on the downtown religious institution.

Portsmouth police said Friday that the shattered sconces appeared to be an isolated incident, and that they are asking for the public’s help in identifying the assailant, who was captured on security footage. Anonymous tips can be made by calling (603) 431-1199, or online atwww.seacoastcrimestoppers.com.

Earlier this year, Loren Faulkner, 18, entered into a consent decree after violating the state’s Civil Rights Act when he vandalized Temple Israel in 2023. Faulkner also targeted multiple businesses that showed support for LGBTQ people and a Black Heritage Trail sign.

He was ordered to pay $2,500 in fines, attend counseling, and perform 200 hours of community service. If he violates any terms of the consent decree, his fine will increase to $50,000.

Reported incidents of hate and bias in the state continue to climb, with the Civil Rights Unit receiving a record number of complaints in 2023. The Attorney General’s office as well as the federal U.S. Attorney’s office for New Hampshire have brought on additional resources in an attempt to crack down on acts of hate.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University. He can be reached at tbookman@nhpr.org.

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