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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

February 24, 2017  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Pence, Rowling, Muslim activists condemn cemetery vandalism


Vice President Mike Pence helps clean up the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery outside St. Louis where 154 headstones were knocked over or damaged. 
Twitter Vice President Mike Pence helps clean up the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery outside St. Louis where 154 headstones were knocked over or damaged. Twitter (JTA) – Vice President Mike Pence visited a vandalized Jewish cemetery near St. Louis after giving a speech in Missouri touching on a spate of recent anti- Semitic attacks, and British author J.K. Rowling helped fuel donations to repair the vandalism with just a tweet.

On Monday, Feb. 20, 154 headstones were discovered knocked over or damaged in the older section of the 129-yearold Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, where the majority of the burials were between 1890 and 1940.

The next day, Pence, who was in the area to visit a CAT product dealership, took a side trip to the cemetery. Pence, in shirt-sleeves and wielding a rake, picked up branches during cleanup efforts at the cemetery led by Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who is Jewish. A crowd showed up at the cemetery after the governor posted on Facebook the need for volunteers to help clean up the damage.


Vice President Mike Pence and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, to Pence’s right wearing a blue shirt, say a prayer with a group of volunteers preparing to clean up the desecrated Jewish cemetery outside St. Louis. 
Twitter Vice President Mike Pence and Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, to Pence’s right wearing a blue shirt, say a prayer with a group of volunteers preparing to clean up the desecrated Jewish cemetery outside St. Louis. Twitter Pence took note of the vandalism and of other recent threats of Jewish community centers around the country and said the incidents “declare to all a sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil. We condemn this vile act of vandalism and those who perpetrated it in the strongest possible terms.”

The same day Pence visited the cemetery, Rowling, the author of the popular Harry Potter series of books, tweeted a link to an article about a Muslim-supported crowdfunding campaign to repair the cemetery damage with the comment, “This is such a beautiful thing.”

The tweet received more than 10,000 retweets and more than 30,000 likes and donations to the crowdfunding campaign tripled. By that evening, the effort had raised more than $100,000, far exceeding its $20,000 goal when it was established the day before.

Muslim activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi, who organized the funding campaign, wrote, “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. We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event.”

University City Police investigating the vandalism have yet to determine whether it was a random act or a case of anti-Semitism, according to the St. Louis Jewish Light.

Andrew Rehfeld, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, told the Jewish Light that the community should stop guessing at the motivations for these incidents and start looking at the effect.

“The chief culminating effect of all these incidents is a clear targeting of Jewish community institutions,” Rehfeld said. “That’s the pattern that is emerging and we need to contain it.”

He added that the federation is evaluating its ability to support “a much broader security function. We’re looking at a much more significant investment in it.”


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