Vandalised Kent synagogue raises over £8,000 to boost security

Chatham Memorial shul has been hit by 12 attacks over the last decade


A Kent shul and Jewish cemetery attacked by vandals a dozen times in a decade has raised over £8,000 to improve security following an appeal. 

Last month, hooligans knocked over and smashed several headstones in the burial ground that adjoins Chatham Memorial Synagogue in Rochester.

The episode left some shul members scared of physical attacks and worried about attending services in person.

Synagogue trustee Dr Dalia Halpern-Matthews said the level of support they had received from Kent residents since the vandalism had been “amazing”.

She added: “Knowing so many people in the wider community care so much that they’ve made these donations has helped relieve people.”

In addition to donating, some who live locally have volunteered to help restore the historic cemetery.

“It’s really lovely that people want to help with the cleanup,” she said. 

“The helpers have included non-Jews in the area. We like to think of ourselves as part of the wider community…

“It’s really lovely when you see stuff like this, the level of thoughtfulness.

"Even when I went to shul on Saturday or Rosh Hashanah there was a letter waiting for me from a lady - I had no idea who she is - saying how sorry she was to hear about the vandalism, and asking how much repairs cost because she would like to donate.”

While many donations have been small, some individuals and organisations have given larger amounts of up to £1,000 each.

In total, Chatham Memorial Synagogue has now raised £8,500 to fund security improvements - but faces a total bill of up to £50,000.

Trustees want to install a security gate to regulate access to the cemetery, but due to the land's historical significance, archeological work must be conducted at the shul’s expense before construction can begin.

The area was traditionally used as a pathway by lepers travelling to a historic hospital nearby.

Complications are also caused by the synagogue’s listed status. Despite applying for permission to launch building work earlier this year, it was only approved this week.

Replacing CCTV cameras that were damaged in a previous attack is set to cost £5,000, which will be covered by donations already raised.

A 41-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage over the vandalism.

To donate to fund security improvements for Chatham Memorial Synagogue visit

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