Menorah in window leads to race attack

By Marcus Dysch, November 13, 2008

Vandals attacked a Jewish convert's home after he displayed pictures of a Star of David and menorah in his window.

Gerry Forrest was forced to install an arson-proof letterbox last week at his Hemel Hempstead home after police, who are treating the attacks as antisemitic, feared lit fireworks gathered for Bonfire Night would be pushed into his hallway.

The 65-year-old is a full-time carer for his wife, Lorna, who suffers from MS. He made a "do-it-yourself" conversion to Judaism over 40 years ago.

A fortnight ago, the couple's four-bedroom townhouse was targeted by youths who threw eggs and snowballs at the windows.

The following morning they woke to find they had been barricaded into the property by a 4ft-high wall of snow.

The attacks followed similar incidents in August and September when flour and water bombs were thrown at the house.

"I looked out of the window and saw two boys," said Mr Forrest. "I thought, ‘What the hell are they doing?' because they were looking at the Star of David on my window. Then there was an explosion and the water bombs hit the windows.

"We have given them no reason to do this. We like to mind our own business and keep to ourselves.

"The snow incident was distressing because neither of us could get out of the house. My wife has trouble just getting around the house and needs her electric cart to go out."

Dacorum Borough Council offered to clean the eggs from Mr Forrest's upstairs windows, and a spokeswoman said the authority's anti-social behaviour team was working with police to investigate the attacks.

PC Richard Staff, of Hertfordshire Police's hate crime unit, said: "There have been a number of incidents that were not particularly nice. We have to put measures in place to prevent anything else happening and we hope it comes to an end."

Mr Forrest began observing Shabbat and wearing a kippah after reading about Judaism in books and on the web. "I went through a dozen religions, studying them, but Judaism was the only one that gave me an element of truth," he said.

Mr Forrest believes he was singled out because of his religious beliefs.

"What do they think they will achieve? They will not push me out of here. I want to show who I am. I support the Jewish cause, it's like an addiction with me now. People know me because of my yarmulke and beard but I'm not easily intimidated."


Last updated: 3:16pm, November 13 2008