Only synagogue in Waycross area broken into, vandalized

Police investigating burglary at Waycross Hebrew Center

WAYCROSS, Ga. – Police are investigating after the only synagogue in the Waycross area was broken into and vandalized.

According to the Waycross Police Department, police were dispatched Wednesday afternoon to the Waycross Hebrew Center on Screven Avenue.

Police discovered one of the side windows was broken and the side door was unsecured.  

Further investigation revealed several items in the kitchen had been thrown on the ground, and that a window in the men’s bathroom and two windows in the kitchen had been broken. A police report shows a fire extinguisher had been discharged in the room where services are held, and a sterling silver topper to a menorah and an electric menorah were damaged.  

"They found blood stains, footprints and handprints. They just took crackers and drinks and threw them around," said Al Jacobson, who has worshipped at the Waycross Hebrew Center for all of his life. 

But the ark, the synagogue's holy closet, was left intact.

"They did not touch the Torah," Jacobson said. 

Although the synagogue was mostly cleaned up by Friday, the back half was still covered in white residue from the fire extinguishers.

"Over and over and over, this carpet was just white," Jacobson said. "It was unbelievable."

Jacobson said it's been a difficult week. 

"I just can’t believe they would have done it," he said Friday.

Jacobson said his family has been in the area since the 1920s and the Waycross Hebrew Center was built in 1953.

"In Waycross right now, not counting those in nursing homes, there’s one Jewish lady," he said. "On Friday night, our average is usually about 12 or so, and half of those are not Jewish. They come because they enjoy the service."

Jacobson said weekly service will go on. It will begin at 8 p.m. Friday.

Police said they do not have suspects.

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