Rededication held after headstones vandalized with swastikas at Jewish cemetery in Waukegan

Mark Rivera Image
Monday, June 26, 2023
Rededication held after swastikas painted on headstones at cemetery
A rededication was held after headstones at the Congregation Am Echod Jewish Cemetery in Waukegan, Illinois were vandalized with swastikas.

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (WLS) -- Months after a historic Jewish cemetery was vandalized, a north suburban community came together for a special rededication.

Dozens came together to remember their loved ones and pray for a world without hatred.

Waukegan city leaders, along with Congregation Am Echad, held a special rededication ceremony for a historic Jewish cemetery vandalized last year.

"All people, no matter what background, what religion, whatever, we should be honoring those who came before us and their memory," said Victory Elbrecht, who was visiting loved ones.

Last November, a vandal or vandals painted swastikas on headstones. ABC7 Chicago blurred those images.

On Sunday, congregants remembered their loved ones, replacing symbols of hate with those of love and unity.

"We are here to dedicate this space again, renewed of safety, security, of living examples of the effort that was brought to stand with us in a moment of need," Rabbi Andrew Bossov said.

SEE ALSO: Headstones vandalized with swastikas at Jewish cemetery in Waukegan

The person or people responsible have not been caught.

"I was hoping that they would have been found so that they could get some education as to what Judaism is and what different religions are in our community and in our world," said Jane Pickus, who attended the rededication ceremony.

The rededication ceremony was a time for reflection.

"The people whose graves they defaced were important, good, honorable people, and I doubt they thought about that the day they came out here and desecrated these graves," said Larry Yellen, who attended the ceremony.

The event was also one to strengthen resolve.

"As long as all individuals who stand against hate stand united and we fight back, this latest wave of hatred and antisemitism will be overcome," said Trent Spoolstra, the Anti-Defamation League associate regional director.

The Anti-Defamation League said last year they logged the highest number of reported acts of antisemitism on record.

"Together we show that hate in any form has no home here in Waukegan," Waukegan Mayor Ann Taylor said.