Muslim-American community members in the city of St. Louis came together to help repair the damages left by vandals in a Jewish cemetery that is around a century old. On Monday, around 200 headstones in the cemetery were discovered to have been toppled over.
Families of those with headstones at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery west of St. Louis, Missouri, gathered Tuesday to try to determine if their loved ones’ grave were amongst those vandalized over the last weekend, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Response from the Community
“It’s unbelievably disrespectful, just a shame,” said Judy Sipkin after rushing over to the site of the cemetery Tuesday to try to survey possible damages to any of her relatives’ headstones. “Nobody’s saying it’s a hate crime, but it certainly wasn’t love or a compassionate situation.” Police are now investigating who was behind the crimes.
Muslim leaders and groups across the state of Missouri managed to raise over $60,000 after launching a fundraising campaign on the community funding site LaunchGood in order to help repair tombstones affected.
A memorial company is set to determine whether each of the headstones will need replacing or just resetting, said the Post-Dispatch.
The fundraiser was organized when activists Tarek El-Messidi and Linda Sarsour initiated the movement, writing: “Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish-American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration against the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery.”
Police have yet to make any arrests for the vandalism, and have not determined whether it was a hate crime or not, reported the New York Times.
Investigators continue to review surveillance videos for the weekend during which the incident occurred in order to reveal any new information. Times reported that they believe the vandalism happened as the cemetery was temporary closed for the Jewish tradition of the Sabbath.