Virginia Congregation, Community Rallies Around Vandalized Jewish Center

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Loving and Serving, Northeast

By Kim Ousley

The Blacksburg Jewish Community Center recently had their sign decimated by vandalism. Eric Hallerman, president of the Jewish Community Center, said the crime committed was considered racism and that the Anti-Defamation League’s just-released annual report found a huge jump in antisemitic events nationally to more than 2,600 during 2022.

Across the street is the First Church of God (Blacksburg, Virginia). Jeff Crowder, presently serving as interim pastor, alongside his wife Stephanie, lead the congregation. He shared how his wife noticed their sign had been damaged by vandals and decided to take a special cleaning solution to see if it would help to take off the paint on the sign.

“They decided that the sign was in bad-enough shape and decided to replace it,” said Pastor Crowder. “The sign shop not far from here said they would replace it at no charge.” The Christianburg Signarama Company had replaced the sign. Other people saw what was happening with the sign and came over to see how they could help, also.

When this happened, several churches in the area reached out to the Jewish Community Center and decided to host an interfaith gathering. Different leaders from each church or group were represented as they spoke at the service and shared their thoughts with the community on racism, bigotry, and hatred.

Interfaith gathering in solidarity with the Jewish community. Credit: The Roanoake Times.

Crowder talks about how both a local news station and newspaper covered the event. “Our church was set up for overflow with video to watch since the Jewish Community Center could only hold a hundred people.” Security was present to provide safety and security.

During the interfaith service, there were about ten churches and guest speakers that came together. The service included discussion on the “Dialogue of Race,” which combats racism. The president of the center, Eric Hallerman, said this incident was “outrageous and unacceptable,” according to the news article.

“We are all one people. God loves us all, and he wants us to get along together, yet everyone had understood that simple message,” said Hallerman.

According to the news article, multiple other religious organizations condemned the incident, while speaking of love and unity in Blacksburg. Along with that were discussions on Martin Luther King Jr.’s message, which focuses on coming together as one.

Throughout the service, speakers noted the long history of anti-Jewish discrimination and its recent resurgence. According to the Anti-Discrimination League, there were 3,697 antisemitic events last year across the United States, up 36 percent from 2021. In Virginia, the league logged 69 antisemitic events last year, up 50 percent from 2021. Nineteen of the Virginia events were vandalism, and the rest harassment, the league reported. (Refer to

Overall, the idea was to bring the community together in solidarity against hate. The town of Blacksburg sees itself as small but mighty. As a result of this special gathering, there is a possibility of more interfaith involvement in the future. Love wins!

Kim Ousley is a freelance writer from Anderson, Indiana.

Learn more about the Church of God movement at

Feature (top) photo: The church published this image at night late last year, remarking, “…Standing with the Blacksburg Jewish Community Center at Kristallnacht.”

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