Two Muslim activists started a crowdfunding campaign to help with the repairs to a St Loius-area Jewish cemetery where at least 170 gravestones were toppled over the weekend. Their goal was to raise £16,000 ($20,000) for the repairs.
Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi started the LaunchGood drive and received $40,699 and counting as of Tuesday night. On their LaunchGood site, they mention that the $20,000 goal was reached within in three hours.
The remaining funds after the cemetery is restored is said to help fix other vandalized 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.”
Eric Greitens, the Jewish governor of Missouri, announced he would volunteer to help repair. He referred to the concept of “Tikkun Olam,” or repair of the world, and asked people 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 in a news release.
The governor had previously rebuked the vandalism on the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City and called on people to “fight acts of intolerance and hate.”
After the vandalism was found, Greitens tweeted Monday evening:
Disgusted to hear about the senseless act of desecration at the cemetery in University City. We must fight acts of intolerance and hate.
— Eric Greitens (@EricGreitens) February 21, 2017
The cemetery’s attack happened sometime between Friday night and Monday morning when the damage was discovered.
Anita Feigenbaum, Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery Executive Director, stated that between 170 and 200 headstones were toppled, with some being broken and damaged.
She added that the headstones that were vandalized were in the cemetery’s oldest section, dating from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s.
“I just am quite shocked — it affects so many people, so many families, so many generations,” Feigenbaum said. “This cemetery was opened in 1893.”
Lt. Fredrick Lemons of the University City Police Department, who talked to Huffington Post, refused to categorize 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.
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