Headstones toppled at California Jewish cemetery

SAN FRANCISCO (J, the Jewish news weekly of Northern California) — The vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in Colma was a random act and not a hate crime, according to the Colma Police Department.

Sometime during the early morning hours Dec. 24, a person or persons dislodged 13 gravestones from their bases, and knocked over six vases. Nothing was defaced or damaged, and police have classified the incident as “malicious mischief and vandalism.”

Tom Halloran, associate executive director of Sinai Memorial Chapel, which owns and operates Eternal Home Cemetery in Colma, said the damage was discovered when visiting hours commenced at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 24.

A survey of the area found that no gravestones had been cracked or defaced, Halloran said.

At present, no motive has been determined. “There is no evidence or proof at this time that this was a hate crime,” Halloran said. “It could have been individuals or a person with nothing better to do in their off time than to vandalize private property.”

By Dec. 27, all of the gravestones and monuments had been returned to their proper location and placed back on their foundation, said Gene Kaufman, executive director of Sinai Memorial Chapel. He is in the process of contacting all of the families of those whose gravestones were damaged.

“Some addresses we have are 20 years old, but we’re making every effort we can to contact the families,” Kaufman said.

Cars are prohibited from entering the cemetery after visiting hours end at 4:30 p.m. daily. However, a person on foot could enter the cemetery at any time, Halloran said.

Vandalism at Colma cemeteries is not unheard of. “This is not limited to Jewish cemeteries,” Halloran said.

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