Two Jewish families were left “petrified” after one had their mezuzah ripped from their doorframe, while another discovered their parchment had been “maliciously” removed, scrunched up and trodden into the ground.
Police are treating the incidents, which occurred at neighbouring properties in Borehamwood during daylight hours on Monday, as a racially motivated crime.
Speaking to Jewish News, Martine Stone, 55, described how she has been “feeling physically sick” since discovering her mezuzah had been destroyed.
She said: “At about 5pm yesterday, I picked up a package from Amazon and then saw something on the ground. I realised it was my mezuzah, lying on the floor broken. The top had been opened and the parchment had been taken out, scrunched up and then trodden into the mud.
“It had been deliberately sabotaged. That’s what really upset me, the maliciousness of the act.
“We are the only two Jewish families in this section of our road, which is a beautiful, multicultural neighbourhood. I got such a shock.
“We’ve had that mezuzah for years. My son is now 18 and we’ve had it all his life, so it’s very special to us.
“I can’t get that image out of my head of seeing it scrunched up and trodden into the ground. In all my life I’ve never seen anything like this.”
The mother-of-one, who is studying for a PhD, added: “It’s had a terrible effect. My son and I couldn’t sleep last night and I’ve been throwing up. I think I went into shock.”
Her neighbour Suzie Wilson, 44, also had her mezuzah completely removed.
She said: “I went outside yesterday morning to get a parcel and realised the mezuzah wasn’t on the door. I thought maybe it had fallen down in the rain, but then my neighbour phoned and she was in tears because her mezuzah had been destroyed. Something clicked in my head. I went outside again to look for my mezuzah. We searched all around, but found nothing.
“The fact mine had been taken off my door, hers had been destroyed and we live next door to each other was too much of a coincidence for my liking. That’s when it hit home and I had a sinking feeling that my mezuzah hadn’t just fallen off the door.
“It’s clearly malicious. You don’t want to believe it’s a hate crime, but that’s exactly what it is.”
The mother-of-three said the incident had left her youngest children feeling “petrified”. She added: “My son, who is at secondary school, doesn’t want to walk by himself, while my daughter, who is at primary school, knows someone has targeted her house. It’s not nice at all.”
Both women praised Hertfordshire Police, saying their response had been “incredible”. The force has pledged additional patrols within the area, which has one of the largest Jewish communities in the UK, amid heightened concerns over antisemitism.
On Sunday, four people were arrested for racially aggravated public disorder offences after a convoy of cars emblazoned with Palestinian flags drove along Finchley Road, blasting their horns and screaming “F*** the Jews, rape their daughters.”
The CST also confirmed there had been “increasingly serious ‘pro-Palestinian’ antisemitic attacks and anti-Jewish intimidations across London” in recent days.
Responding to the latest incident, Rabbi Alex Chapper, senior rabbi of Borehamwood and Elstree United Synagogue, said: “I’m appalled to hear that Jewish homes have been targeted locally. I’ve been in contact with the local police and we’ll be working together to enable an appropriate response to support and reassure the Jewish community. If I can offer any assistance to anyone affected by this, please do be in touch.”
In a statement, Hertsmere Chief Inspector Mark Bilsdon said: “I would like to make it clear to the local Jewish community that we will not tolerate anti-Semitism.
“Please be reassured that thorough enquiries are being carried out to find those responsible and get justice. We have currently got extra patrols in place across Hertsmere; please don’t be afraid to approach us with any concerns when you see us out and about.
“I would also like to reassure you that we have reported these incidents centrally so that it can feed into the wider intelligence picture across the UK.
“The victims are understandably shaken by what has happened and we will be putting them in touch with a specially trained hate crime officer in case they want extra support.”
Anyone with information can contact the police by calling the non-emergency number 101 or visiting herts.police.uk/report and quoting crime reference numbers 41/36556/21 and 41/36605/21.
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