Last week, as our community prepared for Shabbat, we received word that several of our Jewish cemeteries located in the North End of Hartford had been vandalized. The initial report said that approximately 60 headstones were pushed from their bases and many had broken.
The Federation takes these acts of vandalism very seriously. We immediately contacted the Hartford Police Department, who met our staff at the cemeteries that afternoon to survey the damage. We were able to confirm that at least three cemeteries were impacted, but the perpetrators are as yet unknown. The police determined that the event may constitute a criminal act; as a result, a complaint was filed and a formal investigation is under way.
Next, we contacted Steve Ginsburg, Director of the Anti-Defamation League's Connecticut Chapter, who is working with us to monitor the investigation on behalf of our Jewish community. Together, Federation, ADL and the Hartford Police Department are committed to ensuring that all possible resources are brought to bear in identifying and prosecuting the people who perpetrated this cowardly act.
I want to thank Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin for personally reaching out to us. He wants our community to know that the City of Hartford is heartbroken that such a desecration occurred and that it is committed to supporting our community. I also want to thank Miyan Zahir Muhammad Mannan and his fellow Ahmadiyya Muslim congregants at the Baitul Aman "House of Peace" Mosque in Meriden, who have offered their support to repair the tombstones.
Many have suggested that this act of vandalism is a hate crime. Because we do not yet know what motivated the perpetrators, it would be premature to categorize this as an act of hatred. I am hopeful that next week we will be able to finish assessing the damages and obtain an estimate to reset and repair the stones.
This Shabbat, let's focus on the friendship we have witnessed in response to this incident. Let's be thankful that we live in a place where we can work with a supportive police force to ensure a just outcome. And let's look forward to repairing the damage and celebrating the strong relationships we share.
President and CEO