Between 100 and 500 headstones were knocked over at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia this weekend. The news comes just over a week after approximately 150 headstones were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis.
Police said the crime occurred Saturday night, and they were alerted to the damage after a man reported Sunday that three of his relatives’ headstones had been knocked over and broken. Police investigated and found dozens more had suffered damage as well.
“I’m a child of a Holocaust survivor so I grew up with stories of destruction of Jewish cemeteries,” local resident Rebecka Hess told 6ABC. “I always thought we were done with that.”
There’s been a rise in destructive acts targeting religious symbols and institutions recently. In addition to the Jewish cemeteries that were vandalized, mosques in Tampa and Victoria, Texas that were set on fire, and waves of Jewish Community Centers have been targeted for bomb threats.
“[It’s] a hateful act, an attempt to create fear and to tarnish the memory of those who have died and attack their dignity,” Shawn Zevit, a local rabbi, told WHYY.
— Anne Frank Center (@AnneFrankCenter) February 26, 2017
Police told CNN that there are four cemeteries at that particular intersection in the Wissinoming neighborhood but only the Jewish cemetery was vandalized.
Those involved in the cleanup received extra help Sunday.
— Muhammed A. Chaudhry (@EducationIQ) February 26, 2017
After months of anti-Semitism that has gone mostly unanswered by the President Donald Trump, the administration released a statement last week, saying, “Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom. The President has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable.”
Ivanka Trump, an Orthodox Jew, also tweeted this.
America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers. #JCC
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) February 20, 2017
A GoFundMe account has been created so the Philadelphia community can “stand up together and show that love and community will triumph over hate and bigotry.” All proceeds will go to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.
Less than 24 hours after the account was made, it has raised, as of this writing, more than $13,000, exceeding its original $10,000 goal. According to the New York Times, it will cost between $450-500 to repair each headstone.
The Anti-Defamation League is also offering a $10,000 reward for anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the party responsible for the crime.