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‘Cold-hearted vandalism’ of 176 gravestones at two Ohio Jewish cemeteries

“These headstones will stand again, and I hope those responsible will be caught and brought to justice,” Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio) told JNS.

Police-car lights. Credit: Fleimax/Pixabay.
Police-car lights. Credit: Fleimax/Pixabay.

The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati discovered on Monday that 176 gravestones had been defaced at two Jewish cemeteries in Ohio.

The Federation stated on social media that it is “deeply saddened” and that the vandalism “has left our community heartbroken.”

“Most of the gravestones have been pushed face down, making it challenging to identify the affected families at this time,” it said. “Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati will inform the families as soon as they have more information.”

Photos the Federation shared showed toppled stones, many knocked off their pedestals. It appeared from the photos that certain stones were targeted, with several stones in adjacent rows desecrated, while other tombstones in the rows appeared intact.

“The current explosion of antisemitism is real, and it has no boundaries,” Rep. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio), who is Jewish, told JNS. “These headstones will stand again, and I hope those responsible will be caught and brought to justice.”

Justin Kirschner, Cincinnati regional director at the American Jewish Committee, stated on Tuesday that the AJC is “deeply disturbed” by the defacements “at these two historic Jewish cemeteries.”

“Our hearts go out to the families affected by this disrespectful act of cold-hearted vandalism,” Kirschner stated. “The perpetrators must be brought to justice and the tombstones repaired so that the sanctity of these final resting places is fully restored.”

Kirschner added that “this incident is unfortunately part of a rising and unacceptable trend of Jewish sites being targeted by antisemitic hate in recent years—sadly, our community is not immune.”

“We cannot allow this to be normalized,” he said. “Our broader Cincinnati community must come together to stomp out this hate.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the desecration is thought to have occurred between June 25 and July 1, “as the damage wasn’t present when a groundskeeper mowed the lawn there last Tuesday.”

The Cincinnati Police Department and the FBI are among those investigating, per the Enquirer.

The Federation stated in a release that “the destruction includes tombstones dating back to the late 1800s, many of which have been knocked over, with some cracked in half. Most of the gravestones have been pushed face down.”

Mark Jeffreys, a Cincinnati city councilman, called the vandalism “so deeply disturbing and heartbreaking.”

“The vandalizing of 176 gravestones at the Covedale Jewish Cemetery in the past few days does not represent Cincinnati values,” he wrote. “We must stand united against this hate in our community. It does not represent us.”

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