Kent synagogue ‘appalled’ by cemetery vandalism

A synagogue in Kent says it is “appalled” by the latest in a series of raids by vandals at its cemetery.

A number of headstones in the burial ground at Chatham Memorial Synagogue in Rochester were knocked over and damaged.

Dr Dalia Halpern-Matthews, a trustee of the synagogue, said the site had been targeted by vandals five times in recent years.

“Sadly, we are a small community and do not have the funds to erect strong security measures,” she said.

Howard Soskind, who has been a member of the synagogue for nine years, said the lack of respect shown to the cemetery and those buried there was “disturbing”.

“It would be nice if everyone treated others as they want to be treated,” he said.

Dr Halpern-Matthews said a previous incident of vandalism at the cemetery had caused £19,000 worth of damage.

“Both the Jewish and the wider Kent and Medway community are appalled and deeply upset by the latest vandalism,” she said.

“This is the fifth time the cemetery has been vandalised over the last few years. We did have CCTV, but a separate act of vandalism destroyed that too, with one camera literally being pulled off.”

Chatham Memorial Synagogue was one of three sites in Kent to receive Grade II listed status by Historic England.

A Historic England spokesman said the organisation was working with the synagogue and Medway Council to explore how security can be improved at the site.

He added: “Chatham Memorial Synagogue is the only synagogue in Britain to have an attached cemetery, with both elements pre-dating the 20th century, so we are keen to protect this important site.”


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