Two Muslim activists have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise £16,000 ($20,000) for repairs to a St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery where at least 170 gravestones were toppled over the weekend.
The launchgood drive started by Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi had brought in £14,000 ($17,750) as of Tuesday afternoon.
They said any remaining funds after the cemetery is restored will go to fixes for other vandalised Jewish centers.
“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,” the activists wrote. “We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event”
The Jewish governor of Missouri, Eric Greitens, said he will volunteer to help repair a St. Louis-area. In a news release, he cited the concept of “tikkun olam,” or repair of the world, and asked helpers to bring rakes, garbage bags, wash rags and more cleaning supplies.
“My team and I will be there tomorrow, and I’d invite you to join us,” he said.
The governor had previously condemned the vandalism on the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery in University City and called on people to “fight acts of intolerance and hate.”
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“Disgusted to hear about the senseless act of desecration at the cemetery in University City. We must fight acts of intolerance and hate,” Greitens wrote in a tweet Monday evening after the vandalism was discovered.
The attack on the cemetery took place sometime between Friday night and Monday morning, when the damage was discovered.
Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery Executive Director Anita Feigenbaum told The New York Times that between 170 and 200 headstones were toppled, with some being broken and damaged.
The headstones are in the cemetery’s oldest section, dating from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, she told the Times.
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“I just am quite shocked — it affects so many people, so many families, so many generations,” Feigenbaum told the newspaper. “This cemetery was opened in 1893.”
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Lt. Fredrick Lemons of the University City Police Department declined to classify the vandalism as a hate crime.
“Right now, everything is under investigation,” Lemons said. “We’re looking into all possible leads.” The police are reviewing cemetery surveillance cameras, according to the report.
Greitens, a former Navy SEAL whose military awards include the Bronze Star, was elected the first Jewish governor of Missouri in November.