Vandalized House of Israel in Balboa Park Shut for Now for Visitor, Volunteer Safety

House of Israel in Balboa Park.
House of Israel in Balboa Park. Photo via Jewish Federation of San Diego

The House of Israel in Balboa Park, hit with vandalism in the past three days, will close until further notice, Ruth Mastron, its president, said Thursday.

Located among the international cottages near the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, the House of Israel offers exhibits about Israel and is well-known for serving bourekas to visitors.

In an online message, Mastron said: “You may have heard that a window was broken last night at the House of Israel. Fortunately, we were closed, and no one was inside. However, this is the second time in three days we have had to call the police.

“I continue to believe in the value of our core mission to welcome, inform, and educate about our wonderful country of Israel, ancient homeland of the Jewish people. But after a day of reflection, consultation, and soul-searching, I’ve concluded that we cannot guarantee the safety of volunteers, neighboring houses and visitors.

“I could not live with myself if anyone were to be harmed because I failed to take the painful and unprecedented but necessary decision to close the House of Israel until further notice.

“I am disappointed by this decision as anyone else, if not more so, but managing the current situation calls for competencies and resources I simply do not have, so I call upon the Jewish/Israeli community to come together to ensure the future of the House of Israel.”

On X, formerly Twitter, ADL California strongly condemned the vandalization.

“To vandalize a cultural center during this moment of deep Jewish pain is unacceptable,” the post said, thanking the San Diego Police Department “for investigating this incident and for asking the public to step forward if they have any information.”

Opened in 1948, the House of Israel is a 501(c)3 nonprofit run by volunteers.

A version of this story first appeared on San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Association.