‘Major vandalism’: 70 tombstones toppled in Canadian Jewish cemetery

Police investigating incident in Winnipeg’s largest Jewish cemetery.

By JNS

The Winnipeg Police Service in Canada is investigating what some in the Jewish community are calling a case of “major vandalism” after some 70 gravestones at the city’s largest Jewish cemetery were found toppled to the ground on Wednesday.

According to CBC News, cemetery staff at the Shaarey Zedek Cemetery have since placed the headstones back up. But it wasn’t clear if any of the headstones would need replacing.

Police are investigating but have not commented so far.

“How painful would it be to see your parents’, your grandparents’ tombstone damaged that way? It demonstrates contempt for the people, the real lives that those people lived … and it causes a lot of pain,” said Ran Ukashi, executive director of Congregation Shaarey Zedek, a Conservative synagogue which owns and administers the cemetery.

The Shaarey Zedek Cemetery dates back to the early 1900s.

In a message to the synagogue’s membership about the incident, Ukashi wrote: “There was no graffiti on any of the stones or cemetery property. … Associates from local monument companies are working to reinstall the headstones, and cemetery staff are recording any damage for repair. Next of kin noted on plot contracts will be notified if there was any damage to a headstone.”

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Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center in Canada tweeted: “We’re horrified by the despicable vandalism that occurred at the cemetery of Congregation Shaarey Zedek. This act shows sheer disrespect toward members of Winnipeg’s Jewish community whose loved ones’ final resting place was desecrated.”

An estimated 14,000 Jews live in the city. According to Gustavo Zentner, president of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, “you would be hard-pressed to find a Jewish person in Winnipeg who doesn’t have a friend or relative buried there.”

World Israel News staff contributed to this report.