Metro

Hundreds gather to decry desecration of Holocaust memorial

Michael Soolkin and his children, David, 17, and Liz, 22, of Swampscott, members of the family that discovered the vandalism at the Holocaust memorial, lit a candle during Friday’s peace rally.

Mark Lorenz for the Boston Globe

Michael Soolkin and his children, David, 17, and Liz, 22, of Swampscott, members of the family that discovered the vandalism at the Holocaust memorial, lit a candle during Friday’s peace rally.

LYNN — Hundreds gathered for an interfaith service Friday morning at Pride of Lynn Cemetery, where a Holocaust memorial was discovered desecrated with pieces of raw pork earlier this week.

“We stand united against all forms of evil,” said Rabbi Yossi Lipsker of Chabad Lubavitch of the North Shore, who organized the ceremony reconsecrating the memorial. “We gather here, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and people of all faiths.”

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The incident is being investigated as a hate crime by Lynn police. Lieutenant Rick Donnelly, a spokesman for the department who attended Friday’s service, said a new lead emerged when a cemetery worker found what Donnelly thinks is the wrapper for the pork.

He declined to comment further.

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Roberta Taylor, president of the nonprofit board that owns the private cemetery, said the wrapper was from a Shaw’s supermarket.

“We hope they find whoever did this,” Taylor said, adding that the large crowd at Friday’s service should send a strong message to the perpetrators. “We should all get along, and be good to one another.”

Five pieces of raw pork were discovered at around 7 p.m. Tuesday on the stone base of the memorial, dedicated in 1948 in honor of those murdered in the Holocaust.

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Pork is not a kosher food and its placement on a Holocaust memorial is offensive.

The vandalism has been widely condemned by the state’s Jewish leaders.

The Anti-Defamation League has pledged a $1,500 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and conviction of whoever is found responsible.

Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, spoke of the significance of Friday’s service falling at the start of the Memorial Day weekend.

“The ideal of Memorial Day, the ideal of this holy place is that all of us should live in freedom and respect and tolerance, and reject those who seek to divide us from one another,” he said.

The 45-minute service, held in warm sunshine as American flags planted at the base of the memorial flapped in the breeze, included prayers in Hebrew and English, offered by Jewish and Christian cler-gy.

Six tall, white candles were lit in memory of the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.

Priests representing the Episcopal and Roman Catholic faiths denounced the vandalism and offered prayers for peace.

The Rev. Francis Cloherty represented the Lynn Catholic community and Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley.

“Cardinal O’Malley and the archdiocese stand with you today,” Cloherty said.

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,” he said, quoting Scripture.

The Rev. Andrew Stoessel, rector of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Marblehead, quoted the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,” Stoessel said, as people sat with their heads bowed. “Where there is hatred, let me sow love.”

Some who gathered were comforted by the presence of Christian clergy.

“To see everyone come together in love is wonderful,” said Linda Greenseid of Marblehead.

“It was impressive to see people from different religions here,” said Judy Kaplan of Watertown, her voice breaking. “People have to stand together.”

Kathy McCabe can be reached at katherine.mccabe@ globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeKMcCabe.
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