Police appeal after headstones smashed at historic Jewish cemetery

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Police appeal after headstones smashed at historic Jewish cemetery

Headstones at Chatham Memorial Synagogue in Rochester were found smashed

Damaged headstones in Chatham Memorial Synagogue's historic cemetery
Damaged headstones in Chatham Memorial Synagogue's historic cemetery

Police are appealing for witnesses after headstones were found shattered and upended at a historic Jewish cemetery in Kent earlier this month.

Officers were called on October 8 to reports several headstones had been desecrated in the burial grounds of the Grade II*-listed Chatham Memorial Synagogue.

It is believed the damage may have been caused between September 27 and October 4, police said.

Kent Police have reviewed CCTV and are offering crime prevention advice to those responsible for the cemetery, which is estimated to date back to 1700.

Kent Police’s District Commander for Medway Chief Inspector Ian Dyball said: “This type of incident is thankfully very rare but I appreciate the impact it has had on the local community.

“Local patrols will continue to monitor the area and if anyone has any concerns I would encourage them to speak to the officers and PCSOs when they see them.”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said the “disgraceful” act of vandalism “will cause huge upset to the families of those buried in the cemetery and to all right-thinking people.”

“The low lives who perpetrated this hateful attack should face the full force of the law,” she added.

Dalia Halpern-Matthews, the chair of trustees at the shul, revealed that the Dialogue Society, Kent Muslim Welfare Association and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community have extended messages of support.

“I have had phone calls, emails and messages and face to face contact with […] the local Muslim communities who have even gone as far as to offer members of their communities to help us clear up,” she said.

Local MP Kelly Tollhurst tweeted that she was “horrified by this appalling attack on a Jewish cemetery in my constituency. Incidents like this should scare us all, not least at a time of rising Antisemitism. My thoughts are with the families of those buried there & with the wider Kent Jewish community.”

Chatham Memorial Synagogue will soon launch a crowdfunding campaign to improve the security of the cemetery.

Anyone with information that may help police with their enquiries is asked to call 01634 792209 with the crime reference: 46/194406/19.

Alternatively, the independent charity Crimestoppers in Kent can be reached anonymously on 0800 555 111 or on www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: