Unidentified vandals desecrated the grave of a the prominent 19th and 20th century Hassidic rabbi, Rebbe Yechiel Meir, who was appointed rabbi of the south-central Polish city of Ostrowiec.
The gravestone in the city was recently erected by the rebbe's descendants and by Jewish Holocaust survivors from the city, with the assistance of the "J-nerations", an organization working to preserve the remnants of the Jewish communities in Poland and elsewhere in Europe.
This is the second case of anti-Semitism in Poland reported over the past week, after a man threw a stone into a synagogue in Gdansk on Yom Kippur.
The desecrated gravesite is situated in the Jewish cemetery which has been turned into a public park, used by local residents to walk their dogs daily. It is not unusual for the dogs to defecate on the Jewish graves.
Meir Bulka, the founder of “J-nerations” who visited the cemetery this week, noticed that the gravesite of the rabbi, who passed away 90 years ago, was vandalized by drunkards who shattered the windows of the mausoleum and struck the walls with hammers. Several glass bottles were also smashed at the site.
Bulka called the police who said that they routinely patrol the area.
The Ostrowiec cemetery is at the center of a lawsuit submitted by Bulka against the state, demanding that Poland take responsibility for the desecration of the cemetery and the violation of Jews’ sensitivities. Bulka has also urged authorities to prevent further acts of vandalism.
“The Poles cannot understand that it is important for us to preserve the cemetery. They only respect Catholic cemeteries," Bulka said. “As far as they are concerned, it is just another place for dogs to defecate.
“We are witnessing a rise in anti-Semitism on a daily basis. Under these circumstances it is not possible to preserve the thousand-year heritage of Polish Jewry. On the one hand the government turns a blind eye to vandalism against Jews; on the other hand, tales of Holocaust heroes which have been refused recognition by Yad Vashem due to inconsistencies in the testimonies are circulating,” Bulka said.