Seventy gravestones knocked down at Jewish cemetery
Read this article for free:
Already have an account? Log in here »
To continue reading, please subscribe with this special offer:
All-Access Digital Subscription
$1.50 for 150 days*
- Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
- Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
- Access News Break, our award-winning app
- Play interactive puzzles
*Pay $1.50 for the first 22 weeks of your subscription. After 22 weeks, price increases to the regular rate of $19.00 per month. GST will be added to each payment. Subscription can be cancelled after the first 22 weeks.
Vandals have toppled 70 headstones in a Winnipeg Jewish cemetery.
Ran Ukashi, executive director of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, said staff at its cemetery across from Kildonan Park discovered the vandalism early Wednesday and reported it to Winnipeg police, as well as congregants whose family headstones may have been damaged.
“This just appears to be vandalism, but at the same time, quite extensive. It’s not easy to push over those headstones,” Ukashi said, noting staff didn’t find graffiti on the grave markers or cemetery property.
He said it’s unclear why the cemetery was targeted.
“Is it antisemitic, is that the motivation? Is the motivation just sheer mischief? Unfortunately, we don’t know, but what we do know is there was a significant effort put into doing that form of vandalism… it’s very difficult to do and they took their time with it,” he said.
Ukashi said the congregation hopes the culprits are caught. He wants anyone who spotted anything unusual at the cemetery, no matter how small, to contact police.
“I’d want to know why they would do it, and give them an opportunity to apologize, and not to me, but to apologize to the people whose memory he insulted or she insulted… and to the families of those they affected,” he said.
“Why go about doing something like this, what do you stand to gain from this? If it’s a cheap thrill, then think better of it, and if it’s anti-Jewish prejudice, then educate yourself.”
The incident is “enormously” painful for the families of the deceased.
“It’s the ultimate insult both to the living and the dead,” Ukashi said.
“There’s also the broader context of this being quite a frequent problem in Jewish cemeteries. It’s happened in Winnipeg on more than one occasion — at our cemetery and other cemeteries — but also across the world.”
Ukashi said the congregation has engaged monument companies to reset the headstones and hopes repairs can take place within days.
The first burial in the cemetery was in 1894. The congregation has alerted B’nai Brith Canada and the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg about the vandalism.
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.