Dozens of headstones desecrated in Pennsylvania Jewish cemetery

As many as 100 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia were vandalized this weekend, just a week after a Jewish burial ground in suburban St. Louis was vandalized.

Officials have not yet determined a motive in the case.

Naomi Adler, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia, said the Mt. Carmel cemetery dated to around 1890.

Mayor Kenney said his heart breaks for the families who were effected by the vandalism.

"We are deeply troubled by these rising and ongoing attacks on our Jewish sisters and brothers, and members from our Philadelphia chapter are in route to assist in clean up", said Dr. Nasim Rehmatullah, the group's national vice president.

People of all faiths flocked to the cemetery to do what they could to restore the headstones and show their support for those targeted.

I am touched by this expression of interfaith - and human - solidarity, and awed by the selflessness of the Muslim community.

Social media users responded with outrage.

Less than a week after dozens of gravestones were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, a similar incident took place in Philadelphia.

Last week, almost 200 graves were damaged at the 124-year-old Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery near St. Louis, Missouri. "We will take care of the costs from our own money if something happens", said Stanley Kaplan, executive director of the Jewish Cemetery Association of MA.

"Any anti-Semitic act or act of intimidation aimed at Jewish institutions and people in Pennsylvania is truly reprehensible and we must find those responsible and hold them accountable".

By Monday, $134,535 had been raised to fix the damaged headstones, far exceeding the original $20,000 budget. "This is not who we are as Americans or Pennsylvanians", Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said Monday in a statement.

"Anti-Semitism of this nature should not and must not be allowed to endure in our communities", said the Jewish Community Center Association in response to Monday's threats. ADL said there were at least 20 threats on Monday. Police, who are still searching for the culprits, classified the incident as institutional vandalism. "And I reached out to Baptist leaders and Protestant leaders and they said, 'I stand with you.' I reached out to the imams here in St. Louis and they said, 'I stand with you'". "The Catholic Church stands in love with the Jewish community in the current face of anti-Semitism".

The statement followed repeated calls for the White House to address the recent uptick in anti-Semitic hate crimes and widespread backlash after the White House omitted any mention of Jews in its statement marking Holocaust Memorial Day last month. Jewish community centers have received five waves of phoned-in bomb threats since the beginning of the year. The group counts a total of 89 incidents in 30 states and Canada.

"This seems to be what's going on across the country", JCC Spokeswoman Ruth Lasser told SILive.com.

Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics show the St. Louis region has seen four or fewer reports of religiously motivated hate crimes per year for the last six years.

Still, Said of CAIR-Missouri said the cemetery vandalism shows that more needs to be done to bring tolerance to all. "These acts are cowardly".

In Miami Beach, authorities asked that anyone with information call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.

Vanessa Coleman

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