Looking on Monday afternoon at the 55 gravestones knocked over, Dan Zweig, Fort Wayne Jewish Cemetery Association president, said it must have taken at least three people to topple each granite headstone. Standing among the fallen stones in the 6400 block of Decatur Road, Zweig could only wonder why someone would do this.
The cemetery is surrounded by a high fence, and the gate is kept locked at all times between visits from the grounds people or mourners for burials. Zweig said the cemetery has never had anything like this happen before. His grandfather Sam Zweig was one of four founders of the cemetery.
For years the all-volunteer staff has tended the quiet, sleepy glade. Tall trees dot the grassy meadow. Formerly tidy rows of gravestones Monday were marred by headstones pitched forward at awkward angles from their bases. With two fallen stones here and another four over there, there was no pattern to it. Zweig speculated the stones that were knocked loose were those in which the bonding agent between the base and the headstone had weathered, making them easier to push over. Several of the stones had some damage from the fall. No graffiti had been left anywhere to give a hint of why the crime was committed.The vandalized stones were discovered by volunteer grounds workers at around 2 p.m. and the Fort Wayne Police Department was notified shortly after that.
"We will notify the families of the vandalized stones next; I am not looking forward to making those calls," Zweig said sadly.
The cemetery is for Jewish people; it doesn't matter if they were members of either temple or not, Zweig said. He has been involved with the Fort Wayne Jewish Cemetery Association for the past 25 years.