Boston Holocaust Memorial Glass Shattered In Act Of Vandalism

In an act that is sending shudders through the Jewish community and their allies, one of the glass panels of Boston's Holocaust Memorial was destroyed.

The New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston sign and glass pillars.

Indicating how far we haven't come, the New England Holocaust Memorial was vandalized Wednesday morning, one of it's 9-foot-tall glass panels shattered by what was reportedly a rock.

Police have taken 21-year-old James Isaac into custody and charged him with malicious destruction of personal property and destruction of a memorial, reported Boston 25 News. They are still investigating if the incident was a hate crime.

Isaac's lawyer said that the man suffers from mental health issues and, according to WCVB5 News, was already on probation for an assault and battery case. He was wearing a GPS monitoring device as a condition of his bail for that case when he was arrested.

"When we hear the sound broken glass, we shudder. It's a terrible reminder of terrible times," said Barry Schrage to reporters, president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, which manages the memorial.

The panel that was destroyed was engraved with millions of numbers representing the infamous tattoos forced onto the arms of Nazi victims. Israel Arbeiter, a Holocaust survivor who helped build the memorial, rolled up his sleeve to show his tattooed forearm during a public statement following the vandalism.

"I lost my entire family in the Holocaust, in Auschwitz," he told reporters for CBS News. "I was in Auschwitz myself. It was a terrible thing."

Arbeiter's number was one on the glass panel that was shattered.

Thankfully, extra panels were made at the time of the memorial's construction, so repairs should be fairly swift, but the feelings surrounding its desecration will take much longer to settle.

"When a memorial is desecrated, when this glass is shattered, people feel that," explained Robert Trestan of the Anti-Defamation League to CBS News. "It really impacts people in a very profound way."

In this tumultuous time in which hate is just as loud as love, the past is a reminder both of how much humans can overcome and also what they are capable of. It cautions all future generations to heed any and all warning signs, and whatever the verdict of this incident, to feel its impact. Glass doesn't shatter on its own.

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