Police seek public’s help in finding Jewish cemetery vandals

$10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction


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  • Photo by Erika Norton Jerry and Ellen Sander visit the Temple Beth Shalom cemetery in Warwick, which was vandalized in October 2016 with anti-Semitic graffiti.



BY ERIKA NORTON

The New York State police in Monroe are seeking the public’s help to find the culprits responsible for the anti-Semitic vandalism at the Beth Shalom Cemetery last October.

The graffiti included black spray-painted Swastikas, “Heil Hitler” and lightning-shaped "SS" insignias of the Nazi military police, which was found covering the walls of the Jewish cemetery near the intersection of Spanktown and Union Corners roads. The incident occurred just days before Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Orange County is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the case. Anyone with information is directed to contact the Town of Warwick Police at 845-986-3423 or the State Police at 845-782-8497.

“This investigation has been going on for quite a while and the crux of it is we are still actively investigating it,” said Warwick police Lt. Tom Maslanka. “I have detectives assigned to this case as do the state police and they’re working together now in an effort to resolve this.”

According to Maslanka, they are working on several different leads and conducting interviews, and have received some information from the public.

“This won’t conclude until we get to the bottom of who did this," Maslanka said. "So this is not going away.”

Rise in anti-Semitism And while Maslanka said they haven’t had any further instances of similar vandalism in and around Warwick, anti-Semitism incidents have surged in New York State. In the first quarter of 2017, there have been a total of 97 anti-Jewish incidents logged across the state according to an the Anti-Defamation League report, a 70 percent increase from the first quarter of 2016.

And while the total number of incidents across the state in 2016 essentially remained constant at 199, instances of anti-Jewish vandalism rose by 50 percent. Anti-Semitic incidents spiked 86 percent nationwide so far in 2017.

“Between the bomb threats that targeted Jewish institutions and the proliferation of swastika vandalism, concerns remain about the security of New York’s Jewish community,” said ADL New York Regional Board Chair Andrew Frackman in a statement. “The good news is that our elected officials and law enforcement continue diligently to combat the issue.”

Text the word HATE to report biasAfter a wave of hundreds of bomb threats against Jewish community centers and schools hit the state and other parts of the country earlier this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced several new initiatives to combat hate crimes.

The initiatives included a $25 million grant program for safety and security upgrades at schools and daycare centers at risk of hate crimes or attacks because of their ideology, beliefs or mission, and a $5,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest and conviction for a hate crime. Cuomo also launched a new hate crimes text line, where New Yorkers can simply text the word “HATE” to 81336 to report incidents of bias and discrimination.

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