The fountain is part of a memorial to Holocaust victims. (Photo/Leslie Gattmann)
The fountain is part of a memorial to Holocaust victims. (Photo/Leslie Gattmann)

Donations pour in to repair Holocaust fountain in Santa Rosa

A fundraiser to repair a vandalized Holocaust memorial fountain in a Santa Rosa cemetery has raised more money than needed, and the excess funds are being redirected toward Holocaust education programs in Sonoma County.

Dennis Judd, the son of two Holocaust survivors whom the fountain honors, spurred the fundraising effort. 

In an interview with J., Judd credited members of the local community, as well as donors from around the country, for stepping up after national reports about the vandalism. The fountain was toppled over the night of June 14 at Santa Rosa Memorial Park.

Judd’s GoFundMe campaign had raised over $12,000 as of Friday and is still active.

Judd said he will direct overflow donations to support Holocaust education at Sonoma State University and “The Stories Project,” a Sonoma County-based group of teachers who run classes on the topic.

“It’s really great we stepped forward to fix the fountain,” he said. “But now I want to take it beyond that to take a message to the public.”

In addition, Judd said he wants to initiate his own student program where participants blend art and literature to apply lessons from the Holocaust to current events. The goal is to “get people to understand that when we see something being done unjust to somebody, we need to stand up for them,” said Judd.

The fountain was commissioned by Judd in 2016 as part of a larger memorial dedicated to his late parents, Lillian and Emil Judd, both Holocaust survivors. 

The fountain, used for a Jewish handwashing ritual after visiting a cemetery, was built in front of a mosaic that features the names of 12 Judd family members who were killed during the Holocaust. The mosaic was not damaged.

Until her death at age 92, Lillian Judd would regularly speak to students in Sonoma County about her experiences being deported from her home in Czechoslovakia to Auschwitz at age 21.

In addition to the other projects, Judd said he will tap funds raised to donate copies of his mother’s book, “From Nightmare to Freedom – Healing After the Holocaust” to local schools and libraries.

Judd said repairs on the fountain will be completed by June 27, and cracks will be filled with blue grout. He said he’s also organizing an interfaith blessing ceremony for the repaired fountain on July 12.

“I want to show it was repaired by a multitude of caring people,” he said.

According to officer Patricia Seffens of the Santa Rosa Police Department, the incident is not currently being investigated as a hate crime, since other property at the cemetery, including several buildings, was broken into and ransacked in what appeared to be an act of indiscriminate vandalism.

“It does not appear that [the fountain] was targeted because it was a Jewish monument,” Seffens told J. She added that police had not yet identified any suspects.

Gabriel Greschler

Gabriel Greschler is a staff writer at J. You can reach him at gabriel@jweekly.com and follow him on Twitter @ggreschler.