Even a couple of months after the graffiti was scraped away, shadows remained at Temple B’Nai Israel.
Some worshipers still saw outlines where anti-Semitic phrases had been scrawled there June 14 of last year.
“I didn’t see it,” said Robert Loeb, the temple’s president and a member for 30 years. “I think some people saw it.”
Nathan Burr Bowers pleaded guilty Monday to defacing Victoria’s only Jewish temple. He was sentenced to a 10-year deferred sentence, which means he won’t go to prison. Bowers was 19 when the temple was vandalized last summer.
Joshua Paul Muniz got a stiffer sentence of eight years in prison, after pleading guilty June 11. Muniz was the oldest of the vandals and had previous criminal convictions. He also was ordered to pay $6,588 in court costs.
A 16-year-old boy was the third person arrested in connection with the vandalism last year. His name was not released because he is a minor.
All three were arrested in July 2007.
Jay Lack was one of the first members to arrive at the temple after it was vandalized. He helped scrub the anti-Semitic slurs from the brick walls.
“I don’t think I have the right words yet,” to talk about Burr’s sentencing, Lack said.
The vandalism traumatized members of the temple, Loeb said.
“We saw it as a hate crime,” he said. “This was not graffiti. It was very specific toward Jews.”
People throughout Victoria – including other religious groups – supported the temple as worshipers coped with the crime.
Loeb is optimistic the two younger vandals, in particular, can learn from this experience.
“Otherwise, I’m giving up,” Loeb said. “And I’m not giving up. Nineteen-year-old kids can be educated.”
Leslie Wilber is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. Contact her at 361-580-6521 or e-mail her at email@example.com or comment on this story at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com