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Damage and anti-social behaviour reported at Chatham Memorial Synagogue

A prominent member of the Jewish community has told of a series of attacks on her place of worship.

Dalia Halpern-Matthews says damage has been done to Chatham Memorial Synagogue and excrement smeared on its door.

Headstones were vandalised at a Jewish Cemetery in Chatham, in the run up to Rosh Hashanah. (19281475)
Headstones were vandalised at a Jewish Cemetery in Chatham, in the run up to Rosh Hashanah. (19281475)

Police were again called to the Jewish temple last weekend following reports of knocked over headstones in the cemetery in the High Street, Rochester.

Chair trustee Mrs Halpern-Matthews said she believes the graves were vandalised in the run up to Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, at the end of September.

It was only discovered and reported a week later.

“Sadly, we have had this all before and twice in the last year,” she said. “The gate was also smashed. It was not locked and was already open.”

She went on to explain how the temple had been marred by anti-social behaviour on several occasions over the past two years.

Dalia Halpern-Matthews speaks to a community cohesion event held at St Marks Church in Gillingham. Picture: Dalia Halpern-Matthews. (19281339)
Dalia Halpern-Matthews speaks to a community cohesion event held at St Marks Church in Gillingham. Picture: Dalia Halpern-Matthews. (19281339)

“We have had lots of problems with junkies and stained glass windows have been broken. They even disturbed my son’s Bar Mitzvah.”

The front door was covered in excrement on one occasion, with the sermon having to be cancelled for members to wash it off the steps.

“Members of the community are scared,” she said, but one positive to take from this has been the “really amazing relationship we have with the Muslim community”.

“They have reached out when we have been attacked and have offered to help us to sort out the cemetery.”

Mrs Halpern-Matthews was among speakers at an anti-hate crime event at St Marks Church in Gillingham last week.

“Bigotry and hate seek to divide us. But there are many of us who are passionate about tackling hate and racism.

“We need to recognise that we are all the same.”

Police confirmed officers were investigating the attack on the gravestones.

Anyone with information should call 01634 792209 quoting crime reference: 46/194406/19.

To get the latest updates in ongoing cases, police appeals and criminals put behind bars, click here.

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