The windows are boarded up at Smitten Ice Cream on Valencia in San Francisco after the shop was vandalized, Oct. 25, 2023. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
The windows are boarded up at Smitten Ice Cream on Valencia in San Francisco after the shop was vandalized, Oct. 25, 2023. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)

UPDATED: Jewish-owned Smitten Ice Cream vandalized with broken windows and pro-Palestinian tag

A version of this article was first published Oct. 25 at 4:42 p.m.

A Jewish-owned ice cream shop in San Francisco was damaged in the early hours Wednesday when a vandal or vandals shattered several large windows and spray-painted pro-Palestinian graffiti on the only window left partially intact.

All of the street-facing windows of Smitten Ice Cream were boarded up by Wednesday afternoon. Police are investigating the incident and said they had not determined a motive.

The incident comes as the Anti-Defamation League has recorded soaring rates of antisemitic incidents in the U.S. since Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel, killing over 1,400 people and taking an estimated 220 hostages. Israel declared war on Hamas the next day and began a bombing campaign in Gaza that has resulted in thousands of deaths. 

In San Francisco, a vandal spray-painted “Kill a settler” during a pro-Palestinian rally on Oct. 14. And a day earlier in Berkeley, someone discovered “Support Al-Aqsa Flood,” the name for the Oct. 7 Hamas operation, spray-painted onto a billboard designed to combat antisemitism.

Reported incidents of antisemitic harassment, vandalism and assault in the United States since Oct. 7 are up 388% compared with the same period last year, according to the ADL.

San Francisco police told J. in a statement that officers responded to an alarm going off at around 2:49 a.m. on the 900 block of Valencia Street in the Mission District.

“When officers arrived, they located a business with shattered front windows,” according to the statement emailed from SFPD spokesperson Gonee Sepulveda. “When [officers] met with the victim, they were able to determine that the business had been vandalized for unknown reasons.”

Smitten founder Robyn Sue Fisher. (Audrey Ma)
Robyn Sue Fisher (Photo/Audrey Ma)

Smitten founder Robyn Sue Fisher, a Stanford Business School graduate, has been featured in many publications, including Jewish ones such as the Jewish Women International magazine and a 2019 article in J. 

She has in the past served up whimsical flavors tied to Jewish holidays, including Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah and Passover. A few years ago, Smitten debuted a “latkes and applesauce” flavor during Hanukkah and hosted an ice cream social at the JCC.

According to its website, Smitten has locations in San Francisco, San Jose and Las Vegas.

Fisher did not respond to a request for comment.

Ryan Smith, a manager at Dog Eared Books, a bookshop next door to Smitten, told J. he saw the damage when he came to work on Wednesday morning.

“They broke the windows and they wrote ‘free Palestine,’ misspelling the word Palestine on the largest window. It was partially shattered, but not completely shattered,” he said. “I chatted briefly with the manager and offered any help we could give them.”

According to news site Mission Local, the graffiti said “FREE PALESTIEN” [sic].

Smith called the vandalism “stupid, senseless and awful.”

Marc Levine, a former member of the state Assembly and the recently installed regional director of the ADL office in San Francisco, said this type of incident follows a pattern.

“During past conflicts with Hamas, ADL has observed increased incidents of both antisemitism and anti-Israel activity,” he said.

“Police are investigating. They don’t know what the motivation was,” he said. But it’s “heartbreaking,” he added, to think that Jewish shop owners might reconsider openly expressing their identity, such as putting a mezuzah on the door, in the current climate.

“My hope is that we can continue to live outwardly Jewish lives without fear of intimidation,” he said.

Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is the news editor of J. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.