Newton home’s display of Israeli hostages’ photos vandalized in apparent hate crime

PHOTO: On the left, a display on Homer Street showed the names and faces of hostages taken from Israel in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. On the right, the display was vandalized in what police are investigating as a hate crime. Photos by Miriam Kosowsky and Howard Sholkin

A Newton couple was left shaken by a hate crime on Sunday.

After the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in Israel, Miriam and Jeff Kosowsky lined their yard on Homer Street with photos of 110 hostages kidnapped from Israel, and they said they’ve received only gratitude since and no complaints.

But on Sunday morning, a police officer driving by their home noticed the display had been defaced with black spray-paint and called the Kosowskys.

The words “Free Gaza” were sprayed over one part of the display as well.

Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime, Miriam Kosowsky said, and the couple has notified the FBI.

“It was on our property. It was just such a violation,” Miriam Kosowsky said.

The time and level of care it took—the focused premeditation involved in spraying over that many names and faces of children and then ripping some clear off the baseboard upon which they were shellacked—have shaken the Kosowskys’ sense of security.

“We already have security that we pay for in synagogues, and the kids in Newton schools are seeing swastikas in bathrooms,” Kosowsky said. “Now it seems no place is safe.”

A display of photos of Israeli hostages was found defaced Sunday. Photo by Howard Sholkin

But people have also been supportive.

One woman, who Miriam Kosowski said is Greek Orthodox, would drive by and pray for the hostages on her way to church every week while looking at the display.

“And she said, ‘I came by [Sunday] and I was devastated,’” Kosowsky recalled. “So, we didn’t realize how many people this affected.”

The Kosowskys say they’ll replace the damaged posters eventually but will leave the vandalized ones up for now, to remind people that hate is still out there.

The Newton Police Department posted an update on Facebook Sunday evening, confirming that the vandalism was being treated as a hate crime and asking anyone with information about it to contact the department.

“We denounce such behavior, and our community has no tolerance for such bias and hateful acts,” a statement from Police Chief John Carmichael, included with that update, reads. “We will investigate the matter fully and seek to prosecute anyone involved.”

Ward 2 City Councilor David Micley issued a statement Sunday after the Kosowskys reached out to him about the vandalism.

“Over recent days, hate crimes and vandalism targeting Jewish homes have become increasingly aggressive and violent,” Micley wrote. “We must come together as a community to put a stop to this immediately—antisemitism and hate crimes of any kind against anyone cannot be tolerated in Newton.”