Anti-Jewish vandal hits historic coral rock house in South Beach

Swastikas turn up on historic architectural gem in South Beach

By Trent Kelly - Reporter, Andrea Torres - Digital Reporter/Producer

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - As the Nazis rose to power in Germany, Edward Roth was among the first Jewish doctors to move to Miami Beach. He purchased the coral rock house on Collins Avenue and Ninth Street and ran his practice there until 1970.

This is why Mitch Novick said he was shocked and disgusted when he learned a vandal had dared to etch swastikas onto the window's fascia. ​​​​​​​As the chair of the Miami-Dade Historic Preservation board, Novick treasures the home. 

"It’s really an important structure," Novick said.

Miami Beach's only coral rock house was built in 1916 and was part of the city's first wave of construction. Preservationists rallied to defend the home from the threat of demolition in 2005. Now it's at the center of an investigation that  detectives say won't be easy to solve. 

"Obviously they targeted it," Novick said. "It’s obviously somebody who has some serious issues."

The Miami Beach Police Department recently started to investigate a similar incident. Near to the historic coral rock house, a vandal targeted the Congregation Beth Medrash Levi Yitzchok Lubavitch at 1140 Alton Rd., in South Beach, Nov. 14. 

The security guard, who had a nightshift to protect the building, told police officers he noticed someone spray painted a swastika on a white decorative sphere at the entrance of the property.

The building is also known as the Haim and Gila Wiener Florida Lubavitch Headquarters, a corner complex that also houses a school for boys and the Yeshiva Gedolah College, a 4-year private rabbinical institution for men that offers bachelor's and master's degrees. 

The incident happened a day after the FBI reported hate crime incidents increased by 17 percent from 2016-17. According to the report, about 58 percent of the religious bias crimes reported were anti-Jewish.

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