Jewish tomb is destroyed in arson attack on Doncaster's Rose Hill cemetery
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Fire crews were called to Rose Hill Cemetery yesterday after the Tahara House – a small burial room and chapel within the cemetery’s Jewish quarter was set ablaze.
Police have not said at this stage if the incident is being probed as an anti-semitic attack but the blaze has been condemned by members of the Jewish community in South Yorkshire.
The building was last used more than 15 years ago for a Jewish funeral and has since been used as a store room by cemetery staff.
Rabbi Yonosan Golomb of the United Synagogue Sheffield condemned the fire and said: “The fire, if an antisemitic arson attack, is an indication of to what level such people will sink in desecrating the resting place of the deceased.”
He added: "It basically served as prayer hall for the last members of the former Doncaster Jewish Community whenever a funeral or memorial stone consecration service took place.
"Formal synagogue services ceased in the 70’s so this was the only Jewish building that remained.
"I arrived in Sheffield in 1992 and whenever I was contacted from Doncaster it was for a funeral. The last one was in 2006.
"Since the last burial this building was given over to the Rose Hill Cemetery proprietors and I think used as a store room. I
"In return, the cemetery looks after the small part which is the Jewish cemetery tending to the fencing and mowing the grass.
"So the fire, if an anti-semitic arson attack, will not have any impact as there is no one left of the former community in Doncaster. If indeed that was the intention it is an indication of to what level such people will sink in desecrating the resting place of the deceased.”
He said that synagogue artefacts were donated to Sheffield nearly 20 years ago.
Rose Hill has a number of Jewish graves including Max Kletz, who was a descendent 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 Mayor of the Borough.
We have contacted South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service for more details.