Hartford Jewish Community Attacked - 50 Gravestones Damaged

By Joel Leyden
Israel News Agency

Hartford, Ct --- October 22, 2012 ... Over 40 gravestones were turned over and vandalized in a Jewish cemetery in Hartford, Ct.
The cemetery, which had no security, was attacked over the weekend.

The Hartford Police Department’s Major Crimes Division has begun an investigation into the vandalism at the Congregational Israel cemetery, according to Police Chief James C. Rovella. Police suspect that this was a hate crime which may very well be anti-semitism.

The superintendent of the Congregation Israel cemetery located at the corner of Waverly Street and Tower Avenue in North Hartford, reported that gravestones were disturbed “in a vandalism spree that will cost well over $20,000 to properly repair."

The cemetery superintendent learned of the damage from a congregation member who regularly visits his son’s grave, the statement said.

“Most of the headstones that were overturned were secured to their bases, requiring extensive repair work. There are no known suspects at this time. One monument was over six feet tall when standing. In two locations a number of gravestones in a row were overturned. Extra patrol attention is being directed for these cemeteries.”

Police suspect that the vandalism was performed by a small group as the gravestones weigh between 800 to 1,200 pounds.


The Israel News Agency was on the scene today where local and national TV camera crews were searching for people to interview.
At this time the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford is getting out their first news release and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) told the Israel News Agency that they were aware of the attack and thank the Hartford Police for placing much time and effort into the investigation. ADL Regional Director Gary Jones expects to hold a news conference with community leaders in the coming days.

"What could anyone gain from doing this?" asked Jewish community leader Herb Shook.

"This is very sad, very tragic for those who have parents, sons, daughters buried here. I wanted to come out here and make sure one way or another whether or not my parent's stones were affected. Fortunately for me they were not. Not so fortunate for others," said Shook, a member of Temple Beth Hillel of South Windsor.

Jill Konopka WFSB / INA

Repairing the damage could take weeks and cost more than $20,000, according to cemetery officials.

Hartford police are encouraging anyone with information about who's responsible for the damage to come forward.

Among the headstones toppled over was one of a Jewish US Army soldier who was recently killed in Afghanistan. Many other graves in the cemetery are marked with American flags honoring those who served in the US military and or fell in World War 2, the Korean War, Vietnam and Iraq.

When interviewed by NBC and CBS, this author noted that in Israel we do not suffer from anti-semitism but rather war. That this kind of racist hate has no place in this world and that only education and tolerance could serve as an effective solution. That the police might not be able to prevent this kind of disgusting, despicable act but through forensics and intelligence should be able to find those responsible.

Jill Konopka WFSB / INA

"It's important to find out why they did it. To me, that's the bottom line. Why did you do this? And try to correct it and try to educate people to avoid having this happen again," said Shook. "There is a Jewish, Hebrew expression Am Yisrael Chai - the Jewish people lives. We have for 4,000 years and will continue to do so in spite of this."

Anyone with information about the incident, no matter how slight, that may be of assistance to police investigators, is asked to contact Hartford Police Major Crimes Division Commander Lieutenant Brian Foley at 860-757-4463 or email at foleb001@hartford.gov.


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