Arson attack on Jewish cemetery not a ‘hate crime’, say Doncaster Police

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Police say the incident is classified as anti-social behavior rather than a hate crime after fears were raised the incident could have been anti-Semitic.

A South Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: ‘We were called by the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service at around 2.50pm yesterday to reports of a fire they had witnessed at Rose Hill Crematorium on Cantley Lane, Doncaster.

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The aftermath of the Doncaster Jewish Cemetery arson attack. (Photo: David Ridge).

“After contacting Doncaster Fire and Council, the fire near a building is believed to have been set deliberately and is being treated as an act of anti-social behaviour.

“Investigations are ongoing at this time. If anyone has any information that could help the investigations, or was near the crematorium or cemetery at the time and saw or heard anything suspicious, it may be forwarded to officers by calling 101, citing incident 604 of June 11.

The building was last used more than 15 years ago for Jewish funerals and has since been used as a storage room by cemetery staff.

Rabbi Yonosan Golomb of the United Synagogue Sheffield condemned the fire and said: “The fire, if it is anti-Semitic arson, is an indication of the level to which these people will fall in desecrating the place of rest of the deceased”.

He added: “It served primarily as a prayer room for the last members of the ancient Jewish community of Doncaster whenever a funeral service or memorial stone consecration took place.

“Official synagogue services ceased in the 1970s, so it was the only Jewish building left.

“I came to Sheffield in 1992 and every time I’ve been contacted from Doncaster it’s been for a funeral. The last was in 2006.

“Since the last burial, this building has been deeded to the owners of Rose Hill Cemetery and I believe used as a storage room.

“In return, the cemetery takes care of the small part which is the Jewish cemetery by taking care of the fence and the mowing of the grass.

“So the fire, if it is anti-Semitic arson, will have no impact because there is no one left from the old community of Doncaster. If that was indeed the intention, it is an indication of the level to which these people will sink to desecrate the resting place of the deceased”.

He said synagogue artifacts were donated to Sheffield nearly 20 years ago.

Rose Hill has a number of Jewish graves, including Max Kletz, who was a descendant of the Vilna Gaon, one of the most influential leaders in Jewish history, as well as Sidney Furman, the last president of the Doncaster Hebrew Congregation and Samuel Morris, a former borough mayor.

The Muslim Community of Doncaster expressed their support, tweeting: “Such tragic news. The Doncaster Muslim Association stands in solidarity with our Jewish friends at this difficult time. »

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