| Jul 24, 2008

Feature Article - July 24, 2008

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Feature Article - July 24, 2008 Northbrook Cemetery Hit by VandalsBy Jeff Green

Vandals damaged 88 grave sites sometime overnight, July 17, 2008.

Police are asking for assistance from the public in trying to determine who knocked over 88 grave markers in the Northbrook United Church Cemetary last Thursday night.

The damage came to light on Friday morning, to the dismay of those whose family members are buried in the cemetery.

The cemetery is located in the middle of the village, beside busy highway 41 and the commercial centre of the village, but within a few metres of the gate, there is a sense of calm and peace about the place. There is a sheer rock face at the back.

Throughout the weekend and on Monday descendents of the people buried in the cemetery came to visit and survey the damage. They stood in silence in front of the graves.

“That’s my mother over there … that’s my cousin over there,” said one man as he looked at one corner of the cemetery that was the hardest hit area. Isn’t this a terrible thing. Whoever did this …”

The question of whodunit has haunted the village since Friday morning, which is something that concerns United Church Minister Judith Evenden, in whose pastoral charge the cemetery is located.

She has spent a lot of time on the weekend talking to people as they surveyed the damage to their family gravesites and discussed the situation in Church on Sunday,

“I’m not sure it is in the communities interest to know who did this, if it means simply condemning them. If they are found, then it would be best to find out what motivated them, how it is that they crossed this line and did this kind of thing in sacred place, and how the community can bring them back,” she said.

One set of rumours on Friday morning ended up demonstrating the ugly side of vengeance.

Some of the Councilors from Camp Gesher, a jewish camp that has been located on the Skootamatta Road for the past 45 years, were at the Northbrook Hotel on Thursday night.

Even though they were picked up and taken back to the camp at 11:30 pm by Camp Director Shaul Zobary, the rumour went around Northbrook on Friday that the Councilors were responsible.

This led to an incident on Friday night at the camp, when vandals did significant damage to camp property and scared the campers.

Jacqueline Perry from the Napanee OPP detachment said that “it appears there was more than one culprit involved in the incident at the camp and that they were using ATV’s. A lot of things were knocked over.”

Shaul Zobary has a theory of his own.

“I believe that the same people that did the cemetery damage also did the camp. How can people do that kind of stupid and very low level thing?”

Zonary said that since Thursday camp staff have also been the subject of “anti-semitic comments in town,” comments that they have not been subject to in the ten years’ that Zobary has been the camp director.

“It is quite upsetting for us, because for 45 years we have been proud members of the community. We spend hundreds of thousands of dollars here each year and we contribute in any way we can.”

As time passes since the cemetery vandalism and word of what happened at Camp Gesher, Shaul Zobary believes the “wind is shifting” as he reality of everything that has happened sinks in.

Zobary said he has already been talking to Judith Evenden, who expressed her concerns about what has happened at Camp Gesher as well as the cemetery.

Plans are starting to come together to restore the cemetery, and he expectation it will be a project that will be designed not only to put the cemetery back together but the community as well.

Anyone with information about the events is asked to call Napanee OPP at 354-3369 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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