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Effort launched to repair damaged Holocaust memorial in Santa Rosa

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here to donate to the fountain repair.

Dennis Judd of Sebastopol didn’t want the vandalism of a Holocaust memorial dedicated to his family to become a moment of fear for the local Jewish community.

Instead, he wanted it to be an opportunity for healing, where Sonoma County residents, regardless of creed or color, came together.

In the days since, that’s exactly what happened.

As police continue investigating the destruction of a ritual washing fountain at Santa Rosa Memorial Park one week ago as a potential hate crime, dozens of people have stepped forward to aid the Judd family, whose relatives - many of whom were killed in the Holocaust - are enshrined in a tile mosaic building beside it.

A crowdfunding effort launched Wednesday night has amassed over $7,000 to repair the damaged fountain. Judd said he plans to use the leftover proceeds to enhance education initiatives, following in the footsteps of his mother, Lillian Judd, a Holocaust survivor and author who spoke to countless local students over the years about the value of forgiveness.

“We need to be really spreading the word like my mom did when she was alive,” Dennis Judd said. “People need to deal with their anger before it gets out of line and turns into hatred. That was a big part of her talk.”

Santa Rosa police are still searching for the vandal or vandals that toppled the fountain sometime last Sunday night or early Monday morning. A maintenance trailer on the opposite side of the cemetery also was ransacked but nothing was stolen, police said.

Since the memorial has religious significance, hate crime charges could accompany felony vandalism if police uncover an anti-Semitic motive. No such evidence has been found, Sgt. Dave Linscomb said in an email Thursday.

Ruth Tucker Bogart of east Santa Rosa said she was heartbroken when she read in The Press Democrat that the fountain had been vandalized. Several of her friends in First Congregational Church Santa Rosa who are passionate about social justice causes felt compelled to donate money and lend support across the interfaith community.

“In difficult times, it’s easy for us to say, ‘Well what can I do?’ as an excuse to do nothing,” Bogart said. “Getting in touch with the family was the first thing that came to mind.”

The Judd family intends to repair the fountain - not replace it - so the scars of the incident can serve as a reminder of the community’s response, said Dennis Judd.

His focus now is bolstering local education programs that teach students about the Holocaust, hate and how radicalized anger can escalate into genocide.

Judd said one pathway is the Story Project of Sonoma County, which sends speakers whose relatives were either killed, fled or survived Hitler’s extermination campaign to area public schools.

The other, a lecture series at Sonoma State University each spring, features scholars and survivors genocide worldwide.

Myrna Goodman, professor emeritus at SSU and director of the Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, said she was “horrified” to see the fountain knocked down, but believes Judd’s desire to respond with education is an effective way to counter prejudice.

“I couldn’t think of a more timely time, when we need to reexamine how people get the information that will make us a more just and equitable and kind society,” Goodman said.

You can reach Staff Writer Yousef Baig at yousef.baig@pressdemocrat.com.

How to help

Click

here to donate to the fountain repair.

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