A fountain for ritual hand-washing, part of a Holocaust memorial at Santa Rosa Memorial Park cemetery, was vandalized for the second time in two years. (Photo/Dennis Judd)
A fountain for ritual hand-washing, part of a Holocaust memorial at Santa Rosa Memorial Park cemetery, was vandalized for the second time in two years. (Photo/Dennis Judd)

Holocaust memorial fountain toppled again in Santa Rosa

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

It’s like a “rerun.”

So said 66-year-old Dennis Judd, who on Friday found a Holocaust memorial he commissioned in part to honor his parents, both survivors, vandalized for the second time in two years.

Situated at Santa Rosa Memorial Park cemetery, the monument, which consists of a mosaic and a fountain meant for ritual handwashing, honors those murdered by the Nazis, including 12 members of Judd’s extended family. It also pays tribute to his survivor parents — the late Lillian and Emil Judd.

Lillian Judd was considered a “fixture” in the Sonoma County Jewish community, according to the Press Democrat, often appearing in front of children to speak about her experience surviving Auschwitz. She died in 2016 at the age of 92.

It was Friday afternoon when Judd got a call from John Morton, an employee of the cemetery,  informing him someone had vandalized the monument. Again.

The last time it happened was in June 2020. The scars from where the fountain had been patched back together were visible in blue paint.

“It was just laying there,” Judd said. “The fountain had been pushed over and busted up.”

A spokesperson for the Santa Rosa Police Department, Sgt. Christopher Mahurin, said police believe the vandalism occurred sometime between 9:15 a.m. and 2:40 p.m.

The memorial in Santa Rosa honors Holocaust victims and survivors, including Dennis Judd's parents. (Photo/Dennis Judd)
The memorial in Santa Rosa honors Holocaust victims and survivors, including Dennis Judd’s parents. (Photo/Dennis Judd)

Police do not have a suspect in either vandalism case. Both are being considered “potential” hate crimes, Mahurin said, though the 2020 case “was a little bit different.”

“Whoever did [the 2020 vandalism] also ransacked two other buildings on cemetery property — a maintenance shed and a break room,” he said. “Neither had religious value associated with it.”

This time the fountain was the only structure vandalized. To Judd, the motivation was crystal clear.

“I don’t think it’s a real question of whether it was a hate crime,” he said.

A video camera had been installed after the first incident, but there was no video footage of the more recent incident because the camera was believed to have been stolen, Judd said.

The community is again raising money to rebuild the memorial. A GoFundMe page can be found here.

Encouraging to Judd, the 2020 vandalism led to an outpouring of support from Jewish and non-Jewish residents of Sonoma County alike. A GoFundMe page raised thousands, with excess funds donated to the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide at Sonoma State University, and other educational programs.

The community held an interfaith rededication ceremony with Jewish and non-Jewish clergy in July 2020.

Judd said it was important to him to “unite the community” in response to these incidents, and to further Holocaust and genocide education among young people.

“We’re supporting these programs to try to educate the community about what this all means, and where [hate] can lead,” he said.

He said he’d also like to raise enough funds to install a higher-quality security system.

Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is the news editor of J. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.