Congregation Ezra Bessaroth, founded by Sephardic immigrant families from the Greek island of Rhodes, is horrified and disgusted by this weekend’s defacing of the Rhodes Holocaust Memorial. Dedicated in 2002, the monument stands in the Jewish Martyrs Square with a replica in our congregation’s courtyard in Seattle.

It reads: “Do not ever forget the eternal memory of the 1604 Jews of Rhodes and Kos who perished in Nazi death camps”.

Israel Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, himself a survivor of the Shoah, visited Ezra Bessaroth this past summer. Upon hearing that our memorial is modeled on the original Rhodes monument, Rav Lau stood looking at it in silence, touched it and kissed his hand as if the monument was a mezuzah. "Ze Makom Kadosh" ("This is a holy place"), he said.

This weekend’s hate crime - a pitiful, cowardly attempt to blot out the memory of Kedoshim of Rhodes and Kos - simply serves to strengthen our resolve to perpetuate the profound values and rich way of life of those that perished.