NEWS

Muslims Raise £90,000 For Desecrated Jewish Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery

They were only aiming for £20,000.

23/02/2017 08:39 | Updated 23 February 2017

A Muslim-led fundraising drive has raised nearly £90,000 to repair of a Jewish cemetery vandalised in an act of anti-Semitism.

Around 150 headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri, were toppled last weekend, causing heartache for relatives of those buried there.

In response, two MuslimsLinda Sarsour of MPower Change and Tarek El-Messidi of CelebrateMercy, set up a crowd-funder with the intention of raising $20,000 (£16,000) to cover the cost of repairs.

Tom Gannam / Reuters
Around 150 headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetry in St Louis, Missouri, were toppled last weekend in an act of anti-Semitism

By Thursday morning it had received $109,719 (£88,115) from 3849 supporters.

The fundraisers said on their page: “The Muslim-American community extends our hands to help rebuild this sacred space where Jewish-American families have laid their loved ones to rest since the late 1800’s.

“Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America.”

Michael Thomas via Getty Images
Volunteers look on during a vigil at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery on February 22

Any excess funds will go towards other vandalised Jewish centres.

Karen Aroesty, St Louis regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the show of support from Christians, Muslims and other religions has been “extraordinary” but not surprising.

“That’s always been true in this region,” Aroesty said. “When things happen, the interfaith community comes together.”

Aroesty added the Jewish community was reeling.

“The emotional impact on this community is something different than I’ve seen before, and it’s really striking,” she said.

“It’s especially hard for those folks who have several generations at the cemetery.” 

Michael Thomas via Getty Images
Signs of solidarity at the cemetery

The desecration of the cemetery comes amidst reports of a spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory.

According to The New York Times there were 53 bomb threats against Jewish community centres since the start of the year.

US Vice President, Mike Pence said on Wednesday, during a visit to the cemetery: “I must tell you the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care of this place, for the Jewish community in Missouri and I want to thank you for that inspiration.”

President Trump has received much criticism for being slow in condemning anti-Semitism under his watch.

Michael Thomas via Getty Images
Vice President Pence addressing the crowd at the cemetery 

Jewish groups and others were upset in January when a White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day failed to mention Jews. Aides to the president defended the statement as “inclusive” of all who were killed by the Nazis, the Associated Press reported. 

Last week, when a reporter from the Orthodox Ami Magazine tried to ask Trump during a news conference about increased reports of anti-Jewish harassment and hate crimes, Trump interrupted, saying, “not a fair question.”

When reporter Jake Turx tried to continue, the president said: “Quiet, quiet, quiet ... I find it repulsive. I hate even the question.”

Trump went on to call himself “the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your life,” and the “least racist person”.

Michael Thomas via Getty Images
Volunteers from a local monument company help out.

On Tuesday Trump finally denounced threats against Jewish community centres as “horrible” and “painful,” saying more needed to be done “to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”

Rosenbloom Monument Co workers volunteered to put the toppled headstones back in place, and by late Wednesday morning all but a few were restored.

Rosenbloom Monument owner Phil Weiss said eight to 10 headstones were broken, all of them made of marble. Most of the others were made of granite and sustained little or no damage, he said.

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