Linda Sarsour raises over $100,000 to repair vandalized Jewish cemetery in Missouri

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After a Jewish cemetery outside of St. Louis, Missouri was vandalized with damage to at least 200 headstones during the weekend, activist Linda Sarsour fundraised more than $100,000 in a little more than a day (as of the time of publication) to cover the repairs.

Sarsour, an organizer of the Women’s March on Washington last month, set up the online campaign “Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery” with Tarek El-Messidi, the director of the Muslim charity CelebrateMercy, with the goal of reaching $20,000 to cover restoration costs for the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City. Within three hours Sarsour and El-Messidi had exceeded their goal.

The campaign is still accepting donations–“Any additional funds raised in this campaign will assist other vandalized Jewish centers nationwide,” an update on the website said, “We’ve raised $80,000 in the first 24 hours! That’s four times the goal – raising $1,000 every 20 minutes.” [emphasis in original]

“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,” said a statement on the campaign website.

The response on social media has been positive, particularly among Jews in the St. Louis area with relatives buried in the cemetery. Celebrities have also endorsed the effort on social media, including J.K. Rowling and Ellen DeGeneres:

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that police are investigating the damage to the cemetery, but as of now have not yet determined if it was a hate crime targeting the Jewish community.

Marla Levinson, whose parents and grandparents are buried in Chesed Shel Emeth, told the paper, “It’s unbelievably disrespectful, just a shame,” continuing, “Nobody’s saying it’s a hate crime, but it certainly wasn’t love or a compassionate situation.”

The desecration of the graves comes amid a wave of bomb threats with 68 in the last six weeks across the U.S. (and one Canadian province), the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. 

In January, arsonists destroyed a mosque in Texas. A similar online crowd-funded campaign collected more than $850,000 to pay for rebuilding.


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Don,t expect this to go global.Not because it is not newsworthy but because it might put Muslims in a positive light.

Bravo to Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi. I wonder how many contributors to this cause know that Israel regularly destroys and desecrates Palestinian cemeteries… “Israel razes Muslim graves in East Jerusalem cemetery Israeli authorities today demolished several graves in occupied East Jerusalem’s historical Bab Al-Rahmeh cemetery east of Al-Aqsa Mosque, according to a Palestinian official. Israel had confiscated parts of this historical cemetery in September 2015. “Personnel from the so-called ‘Israeli Nature Authority’ – backed… Read more »

It reminds me that im mid 1980, a French engineer, working in Iraq for french building -company told me that they had, cleaning the ground to build a factory, by mistake damaged an old Jewish cemetery. The government of Sadam Hussein obliged them to pay huge amount of money to restore the cemetery. At the same time, a civil nuclear plant also built by a French company got bombed by israeli air force. If Ms… Read more »

How idiotic, that money would have been more welcome in Gaza, perhaps providing for those enslaved children toys or medicin! Palestinians, don´t be generous to those who enslave, occupy und even kill you every single day!

$20K needed, $130k+raised and still accepting donations… So the surplus is going to repair vandalised Jewish cemeteries in other parts of the country. Lawrrd have mercy! Why? This will only inspire more vandalism in other parts of the country whose state officials are now absolved from giving a damn about some of their own responsibilities: “the Muslim pig… umm, chicken banks will bail us out”. This is grossly embarrassing and deeply distressing. Why are the… Read more »