A fountain in a Santa Rosa cemetery dedicated to Holocaust survivors was toppled and smashed early this week.
The fountain also was used for a handwashing ritual performed by traditional Jews after visiting a cemetery.
Police are investigating the incident at Santa Rosa Memorial Park to determine if it was a hate crime, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported. The vandalism occurred on Sunday night or Monday morning.
A maintenance trailer at the cemetery also was damaged, though nothing was reported stolen. Santa Rosa Police told the newspaper that they had not established whether the two vandalism acts are connected.
The fountain was part of a memorial created to honor the late Lillian Judd and her husband, Emil, both Holocaust survivors. Lillian, who was 21 when she and her family were deported to Auschwitz from their home in Czechoslovakia, regularly spoke to Sonoma County students about her wartime experiences. A mosaic erected behind the fountain lists the names of 12 family members who were killed during the Holocaust. The mosaic was not damaged.
Son Dennis Judd, who commissioned the fountain in 2016 after his mother’s death at age 92, told the newspaper that he hopes the community will rally behind whatever symbol replaces the fountain.
“The hope that mom had was to teach the kids and teach the adults about peace,” he said. “That’s the thing we need to push on. Maybe the community can come together and help us resurrect the fountain and make it a place of healing. That was always the message for (Lillian).”
Rabbi Mordecai Miller of Congregation Beth Ami in Santa Rosa told J. that he’s glad the police are open to investigating the incident as a hate crime. Noting that no graffiti or defacement of the Holocaust memorial was found, he said he is reserving judgment.
Additionally, he said, he thought Dennis Judd’s remarks to the Press Democrat “captured the wisdom and kindness of his mother and the family. She was, in every sense, a great person. We still miss her in our community.”