An Orthodox Jewish family in East Manatee had their holiday decorations stolen and bologna and cheese smeared on their car in what they say is clearly an anti-Semitic act.
River Club resident Rachel Zion filed a police report after the incident in which their outdoor Hanukkah display was stolen, their teenage son’s car was vandalized and their holiday spirit was dampened.
The Zions, who worship at the Orthodox Chabad of Bradenton, are a traditional Jewish family who adhere to the Torah’s teachings that forbid the mixing of dairy and meat.
Sefram Zion’s car was parked in front of his family’s house in the 7200 block of Pine Valley Street when the vandalism took place Friday night.
Shaving cream drawings of the Star of David and the words “Mazel Tov,” which is Hebrew for congratulations or good luck, were mockingly written on the car.
The car also was smeared with the sacrilegious combination of bologna and cheese.
“Having the cheese and bologna mixed together would definitely have been an offense for them,” said Mark Cohen, a rabbi at Temple Beth El in North Port.
Rachel Zion said that in five years of living in East Manatee, the family had never suffered vandalism until last week, when someone egged a car in front of their house. Even though none of their neighbors’ cars were egged, the Zions didn’t think they were being targeted until Saturday’s discovery.
“I think it was definitely someone who knows something about our traditions,” Zion said. “I don’t think any car would be covered that way at a Christian household. It is anti-Jewish.”
Zion said she described the incident in detail to a Manatee County sheriff’s deputy, explaining the significance of the bologna and cheese, but that fact never made it into the crime report.
She said the incident might have been spurred by an ongoing spat between her son and some friends.
Sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow said the deputy taking the report over the telephone might not have realized the significance of the bologna and cheese combination.
Bristow said the deputy probably thought it was another instance of juveniles vandalizing Christmas decorations.
“It does seem a little odd that someone would use bologna and American cheese,” Bristow said.