Man shouts antisemitic insults outside Oak Park synagogue, police look for suspect

Congregation Beth Shalom means house of peace.

But what Alicia Nelson experienced outside the Oak Park synagogue last week was anything but peaceful.

Alicia says she was accosted by a man who shouted antisemitic insults at her. She tried to ignore him, but he began following her in his car. 

The man asked Alicia, "how are you doing today baby killer?" she said.

Alicia then went inside, but the man was not done yet. In fact, he parked his car just across the street and waited for another round of harassment.

"He wanted a second shot at somebody who was Jewish," said Alicia's husband, Rabbi David Nelson with Congregation Beth Shalom.

This time, it was another woman who was part of the congregation.

"So as he saw her pull up, he pulled up next to her and shouted something about Palestinians and Gaza, and said ‘I’m proud to be a Jew hater’ and threw something at her," Alicia said.

Whatever he threw, Alicia and her Rabbi David say it was soft.

"We were not physically accosted, we were not physically threatened," Alicia said. "That’s certainly something that we have to say ‘thank god.'"

But the hateful act comes as a reflection of heightened tensions in our community – as the war between Israel and Hamas continues.

"It’s very, very disconcerting and tragic. It's more antisemitism than I’ve seen in my entire life and I’m not young," David said.

A spark of hope — rabbi nelson says he and his wife have received an outpouring of support from communities of all denominations

"I’ve worked with interfaith groups my whole career," David said. "It’s very important to respect other people and to work with them and to actually love them – they’re friends."

Oak Park police are investigating.

The vehicle in question is believed to be a dark Chevy Traverse with a big dent on the passenger side door. 

Anyone with information is asked to call Oak Park police.