Metro, Newton

Newton Community Gathers to Rededicate Vandalized Hostage Wall on Homer Street

Hundreds gathered in front of 255 Homer Street Sunday afternoon to reinstall a display of Israeli hostage posters two weeks after it was vandalized in March.

“We learned how much this hostage memory wall has meant to those who passed by and saw it as a place of memory, comfort, meditation,” said Jeff Kosowsky, the homeowner.

Soon after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, Kosowsky and his wife, Miriam, lined the front lawn of their Newton Centre home with 110 posters displaying faces of hostages taken by Hamas.

In late March, vandals defaced the display, ripping the posters and spray-painting “Free Gaza” over part of the boards. The city is investigating the vandalism as an antisemitic hate crime.

On the six-month anniversary of the attack on Israel, the Kosowskys rededicated the display in a community gathering with speeches, music, crafts, and letter-writing to the families of the hostages.

“We are publicly rededicating the hostage wall to turn the tables on the despicable haters who used spray paint in an attempt to literally blot out the names, faces, and memories of these innocent hostages,” Kosowsky said.

Mayor Ruthanne Fuller comforted the Kosowskys soon after the vandalism, according to Jeff Kosowksy. Fuller also spoke at the rally, condemning antisemitism across the city.

“As the mayor of Newton and as a Jew, I want to say that hate will not and cannot silence us,” Fuller said.

The city has reported an uptick in antisemitic or anti-Israel hate crimes, with nine reported incidents in the past three weeks, including one in which a rock was thrown through the window of a home with pro-Israel signs on it.

Paula Ostroff, a Newton resident and volunteer at the event, said animosity toward Israel’s war in Gaza results in acts of hate against Jews.

“Everybody’s putting the onus on Israel, and when people put the onus on Israel they put the onus on Jews, which is why these signs in Newton were defaced,” Ostroff said.

According to Ostroff, incidents of vandalism ignore the humanity of Israelis taken hostage by Hamas.

“When I see that the signs from the hostages were torn down by Newton Centre but the missing cat signs were left up, that means something,” Ostroff said.

Ben Spira, a Newton resident and friend of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, a man taken hostage from the Nova Music Festival on Oct. 7, discussed his friend and the feeling of being unaware of his whereabouts for six months.

“As time went on and more details emerged, Hersh’s story only inspired me to have more hope that he might one day come home,” Spira said.

Newton’s congressional representative Jake Auchincloss also spoke at the event, promising to fight antisemitism from Capitol Hill.

“As your voice and vote in Washington, I am committed to all measures that will counter antisemitism and hasten the return of the hostages,” Auchincloss said.

Event volunteer Ken Bresler bought lawn signs that read “Stand Against Antisemitism” and handed them out at the event.

“I bought these and paid for them myself, and we’re asking people for donations and distributing them today,” Bresler said.

According to Bresler, the signs are designed to be read even if vandalized.

“I did white on blue so it would make it harder to vandalize and write counter graffiti on, and if someone steals the sign, that proves the point that they need the sign,” Bresler said.

April 9, 2024