Every day in the news, we are shown stories of how a person hurt another, stories of discrimination of one person or group or another, and even the battle fields in foreign countries. The news is simply meant to make the public aware of what is happening around their citizens and help to prepare them to be vigilante and safe. Unfortunately, most of these stories, strung together over the course of a hour broadcast, can make one feel a bit demoralized and question the state of each of our communities.
But then there are stories of communities coming together to show solidarity against such hate and bigotry. That’s what happened this past Sunday at the Temple Beth Shalom Cemetery in the Village of Warwick in Florida, NY.
A week ago, an unknown assailant/assailants vandalized the Temple Beth Shalom Cemetery wall, spray painting swastikas, “Heil Hitler,” and the lightning bolt “SS” symbols on the exterior wall. Thankfully the damage was isolated to the exterior wall of the cemetery and none of the graves were disturbed or damaged. This assault was only focused on the Temple Beth Shalom Cemetery, a cemetery across the street was left untouched. The vandalism, however, had a much different affect on the community; it brought the Village of Warwick together.
On Sunday, Rabbi Rebecca Shinder of the Temple Beth Shalom offered a community service at the cemetery, and the community responded , “all walks of the community attended the service: elected officials, Scout groups in uniform, members of the Bruderhof and Sikh communities, and clergy from dozens of other religious congregations (Times Herald-Record).” After the service, the community helped with painting the wall and covering the anti-Semitic graffiti.
Reward Offered: The Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County is offering a $10,000 reward, funded by an anonymous donor, for information leading to a conviction in the desecration of Temple Beth Shalom Cemetery in Warwick. In addition, Town of Warwick police are continuing their investigation. Anyone with information on the case is urged to call police at 845-986-5000.