LAKEWOOD — Anti-semitic graffiti greeted children at a Lakewood playground on Thursday.

Swastikas and a misspelled salute to Hitler were spray-painted in black on a jungle gym on a playground, and windows were broken in a building at the Yeshiva Ketana, according to Lakewood police spokesman Greg Staffordsmith, who said the damage was done sometime late Wednesday or early Thursday. There were also other markings that were not clear in their meaning.

The school is located on Second Avenue and is the former Lakewood YMCA.

“Lakewood Township and its police department takes bias crime very seriously. It is obvious that someone is trying to intimidate a particular segment of the community and we will not tolerate that sort of behavior," Lakewood Mayor Menashe Miller told The Lakewood Scoop.

Staffordsmith said there was a similar graffiti incident in July at the school but no connection has been made between the incidents.

There has been growing tension in Lakewood and surrounding communities, with longtime residents complaining of what they say are predatory real estate practices by the growing Orthodox Jewish community. Some residents have compared the practices to the "blockbusting" that started with the Great Migration in 1910, when real estate agents pressured white homeowners to sell their properties at cheap rates and then inflated the prices and sold them to black buyers in desperate need of housing.

In recent years, some residents in these Ocean County communities have complained that they have been harassed and pressured to sell their homes to Jewish families that want to move into the Lakewood area because of its Kosher markets, religious schools and temples. Toms River earlier this year banned real estate solicitation in two areas of the town for five years in reaction to residents' complaints.

Vandals also scratched ugly comments about Jewish people into playground equipment at Riverwood Park in Toms River in March.

Staffordsmith asked anyone with information about the Lakewood incident to call 732-363-0200.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

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