Muslim Americans Raise $120,000 to Repair Vandalized Jewish Cemetery

By Joanna McClanahan of Ramblin’ Mama

Almost 200 headstones were vandalized at a historic Jewish cemetery in St. Louis last weekend.

The incident is part of a recent wave of increased anti-Semitic activity including bomb threats, proliferation of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti and vandalism (including the use of swastikas and other Nazi imagery), as well as reports of assaults and harassment across the country.

Muslim charities took up the cause to pay to repair the 124-year-old Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis. Muslim-American activists Linda Sarsour of MPower Change and Tarek El-Messidi of CelebrateMercy initially set out to raise $20,000 by the end of March, but exceeded its goal in just one day. As of writing this post, the fundraising campaign has raised almost $120,000 and is still growing.

“Solidarity is a verb not a noun,” Sarsour wrote in a viral Facebook post.

As their LaunchGood project states, “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 fundraising page also says, “Any remaining funds – after the cemetery is restored – will be allocated to repair any other vandalized Jewish centers.”

On Tuesday, Trump said, “The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.” (While that’s better than no acknowledgement at all, frankly, I’ve heard more passionate condemnations from him about Saturday Night Live.)

On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery to condemn the vandalism that took place there. “From the heart, there is no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism,” said Pence.

But then, this morning (Thursday), the Anti-Defamation League in NYC received a bomb threat after reporting the uptick in anti-Semitic incidents.

Clearly there are increasing levels of white nationalism that are directly affecting religious minorities in our country. We must continue to stand up against this sentiment, and advocate for the minorities in our communities, before it spirals further out of control.

Acts of kindness and compassion feel more important now than ever before.