Hartford, CT – An investigation is underway after someone desecrated a historic Jewish cemetery in Hartford.
“The effort to penetrate and break that panel was a significant effort,” said Leonard Holtz, President of the Congregation Ados Israel Organization.
It’s a disturbing site at Hartford’s Zion Hill Cemetery.
The mausoleum of a rabbi was desecrated.
The heavy granite panel was broken and dislodged, and items inside indicate someone may have been living in there.
“On a personal level it was very troubling. You feel the emotions of something that was taken away,” Holtz said.
For generations his family has overseen the maintenance and operations of the historic Jewish cemetery.
“There needs to be an attitude that we honor the living and we honor the dead,” said Holtz.
Holtz said it’s the worst act of vandalism he’s ever seen at the cemetery. He added that there have been other issues this week.
“The homelessness is one problem. The drugs and vice another. And then there’s the criminal,” Holtz said.
Photos show the aftermath of a homeless couple using monuments as a fireplace.
Approximately 400 people are buried at this part of the Jewish cemetery.
Others in the community reacted to what was discovered during a regular inspection.
“We are sick over it. We hate to see any sort of vandalism in any of the cemeteries here. We love the Jewish cemeteries, they’re beautiful. They’re historic,” said Carey Shea, Co-Founder of the Friends of Zion Hill Cemetery.
Hartford police are investigating and hoping to find the perpetrators.
“Any vandalism or crime is taken serious. It’s a strange one. I don’t know that I’ve seen this one before. But MCD is involved. Crime scene division is involved,” said Lt. Aaron Boisvert with the Hartford Police Department.
It’ll cost at least $10,000 to repair the mausoleum.
Though the cemetery is fenced off, Holtz said he’s looking at additional security for the historic site, including more cameras and lights.
“It’s the first and the most troubling that I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Holtz said.