Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Vandals topple tombstones at city Jewish cemetery

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Winnipeg police are investigating after a number of headstones were knocked over at a cemetery north of Garden City over the weekend.

Approximately 20 to 25 headstones were overturned at the Hebrew Sick Benefit Cemetery, located on McPhillips Street just north of Swailes Avenue.

Police say the vandalism occurred between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning.

The damage and cost to right the headstones is estimated at $40,000 to $60,000.

Jonathan Buchwald, executive director of Etz Chayim Synagogue, which oversees the cemetery, said the damage was confined to two rows in a couple of sections.

"In the grand scheme of things, (the damage) was fairly minimal," he said Wednesday. "Police are investigating. At this point, there's no graffiti and no evidence that it's anything more than just kids goofing around and thinking that they're smart.

"We believe many of them could just be put back," he said. "Our crews are looking at that. It doesn't look like there was any actual physical damage to the stones."

Buchwald said the cemetery is in the process of alerting the affected families on what happened. He didn't have a definitive timeline on when the stones would be set back in place.

Winnipeg police say there's no indication it was a crime motivated by anti-Semitism.

"We hate to see it," said police spokesman Const. Jason Michalyshen.

Investigators are gathering information and possible surveillance-camera footage to try to find suspects, Michalyshen said.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Winnipeg Police Service investigators at 204-986-2848 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 15, 2014 B4

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