HARTFORD (Apr. 16)
The Jewish Aid Congregation, a small Orthodox synagogue in Colchester, is functioning normally again after a three-day spree of vandalism and defilement that began on Passover eve and for which two boys, aged 13-14, have since been arrested. The youngsters, whose identities have been withheld, were turned over to their parents’ custody by the juvenile authorities pending a hearing on charges of first degree criminal mischief and third degree burglary.
Jack Herman, president of the 80-member congregation which has no permanent rabbi, said the “spiritual damage” was greater than the monetary damage which he estimated at $4000. State Police Commissioner Cleveland B. Fuessenich, declared in a statement to the Connecticut Jewish Ledger that he had been “assured by investigators that there is no anti-Semitism involved and this was strictly an act of destruction by the juveniles involved in a building that was readily available to them.”
But the morbid nature of the destruction and defilement, aimed mainly at religious objects and Jewish symbols in the synagogue, appeared to indicate that the acts went beyond mere vandalism. According to the Jewish Ledger’s account, the youngsters first broke into the synagogue on Saturday, April 6 when four fire extinguishers were stolen and a fifth used to spray the premises. Plans to replace the broken wooden doors with metal ones were delayed by the holidays.
PATHOLOGIC DEFILEMENT DESCRIBED
On the following Monday, toilet paper was found strewn around the premises. On Monday evening a member of the congregation saw lights on in the synagogue and two youths fled as he approached. Inside he found human excrement and vomit had been placed carefully and systematically on the Bimah including the center of the Torah reading table and on mantles covering the congregation’s three Torah scrolls, the Ledger reported.
In addition, yarmulkes and tallesim were stuffed into toilet bowls and strewn on the floors, quantities of matzohs were broken and scattered about the building, toilet paper was wrapped around the wrought iron railings of the Bimah, and the Ark cover and a large Jewish flag were slashed with a razor but an American flag was left untouched. Chairs set up for services and other non-religious objects were not disturbed.
The congregation is housed in a two-story building built in 1960. Most of its members are over 50 years of age. News of the desecration brought an outpouring of sympathy and cash donations from Jews and non-Jews in Colchester and nearby communities, the Ledger reported.