Two 13 year-old boys were arrested on Friday, in Manchester, England, on charges of vandalizing the Rochdale Road Cemetery, one of the city’s oldest Jewish burial grounds. The incident, which occurred last Monday, left over 70 graves knocked down, and the beis hachaim littered with swastikas and
other anti-Semitic graffiti. According to the Manchester Evening News, the two suspects were questioned and released on bail until July 25, pending further investigation.
In a statement, Mike Reid of the Manchester Police
Department, said that “Residents have been fully supportive and cooperative of our investigation and as a direct result of their assistance we have been able to make these two arrests. I want to stress that this investigation is at an early stage and we of course continue to appeal to anyone with information about those responsible for this appalling crime to call us.”
In a conversation with Hamodia, Ben-Tzion Leitner of Manchester’s Misaskim pointed out that “incidents like this are very rare; there is not a lot of anti-Semitism here.”
When asked about the response of the community to the arrests, Leitner said that “people are happy to see that the police made the arrests. It shows everybody that the police took it seriously and that will prevent anything like this from happening again.”
On a more uplifting note, volunteers from across the Manchester community turned out on Sunday under the auspices of the North Manchester Jewish Cemetery Trust, to restore the historic site. The group included members from across the spectrum of the Jewish community as well as from the city’s Christian and Muslim communities. Prominent among the group was Manchester’s Misaskim staff, which provided washing facilities and refreshments. The Rochdale Road cemetery site is of particular significance to the community. It is over 100 years old and was the first to be used by Manchester’s Machzikei Hadaas kehillah.