Cemetery Security Update
Thank G-d, while there has been some anti-Semitic vandalism in Jewish cemeteries elsewhere in the country, Cincinnati has not had any known incidents. The horrible events of this past year in St. Louis and some other communities in North America did not spur a wave of such incidents, as many of us feared it would. Still, even more recent events, such as the disturbing and subsequently tragic protest and rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, have reawakened fears of a rise in anti-Semitism. JCGC has reached out to local police and law enforcement agencies to coordinate in the event of an incident, and to generally increase patrols and awareness.
Unrelated to anti-Semitism, there have been issues in the Price Hill neighborhood, which has been suffering decline for years. This has led to some troubling issues in our cemeteries along Sunset Avenue. The neighborhood decline has been exacerbated by the heroine epidemic, which has led to some incidents of illegal activity taking place in quiet places all over Price Hill, including cemeteries. JCGC has been coordinating with neighbors of our cemeteries and, in particular, with our Caretaker, Mike Masminster, who lives on one side of Sunset Avenue. Mike is third-generation Masminster living in the house on Judah Touro Cemetery and he does a great job keeping those cemeteries safe, despite the recent incidents. We have also been encouraged by a recent Cincinnati PD effort to root out the criminal element. And JCGC recently installed new lighting and repaired existing lighting in several locations and also increased surveillance and regular patrols.
Dealing with the need for protecting our cemeteries located in difficult neighborhoods or against anti-Semitism is something that the JCGC Building and Grounds Committee and Board are discussing. In coordination with SAFE Cincinnati, the JCGC staff is discussing security protocols and procedures to ensure their safety and the safety of community members attending services or visiting love ones. The issue also highlights the stake we all have in safety, security, and flourishing neighborhoods, even if we do not live in those declining neighborhoods. It is important to continue building bridges and relationships with others outside of the Jewish community and to strive to be good neighbors, always.