HARTFORD, Conn. (Sep. 3)
Vandalism has hit a synagogue in Waterbury and a Jewish cemetery near Orange. Police arrested six juveniles suspected of breaking into and damaging Beth Israel synagogue in Waterbury and believe that juveniles may have been responsible for overturning 200 gravestones in the cemetery owned by the Beth Israel Synagogue Center in Derby.
The Waterbury synagogue was forced to close its doors ahead of schedule. Until a new synagogue is completed, the 62-year-old Orthodox congregation will hold services at the Beth David Academy. Ground breaking ceremonies for the new building will take place Sept. 7.
Rabbi Jonah Gewirtz told the Connecticut Jewish Ledger that when he opened the synagogue in the morning he found that it had been broken into from the rear. Several doors and upstairs windows had been smashed. In the sanctuary the Ark was smashed and its velvet curtain ripped. One Torah handle was broken and the Eternal Light was smashed. Rabbi Gewirtz said he had planned to take the Light and a candelabra which was stolen to the new synagogue. The youngsters arrested, aged seven to 14, admitted doing some but not all of the damage, police said.
Damage to the cemetery was estimated at $3,000-$4,000 by Donald W. Mark, president of the Synagogue Center in Derby. He doubted that juveniles were responsible because of the weight of the overturned stones.