Missouri governor to help repair vandalized Jewish cemetery

Jewish governor of Missouri volunteers to help repair vandalized St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Toppled headstones at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery
Toppled headstones at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery
Reuters

The Jewish governor of Missouri, Eric Greitens, said on Tuesday that he will volunteer to help repair a St. Louis-area Jewish cemetery where at least 170 gravestones were toppled over the weekend.

Greitens in a news release cited the concept of "tikkun olam," or repair of the world, and asked helpers to bring rakes, garbage bags, wash rags and more cleaning supplies.

"My team and I will be there tomorrow, and I'd invite you to join us," he said in the statement quoted by the JTA news agency.

The governor had previously condemned the vandalism on the Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery in University City and called on people to "fight acts of intolerance and hate."

"Disgusted to hear about the senseless act of desecration at the cemetery in University City. We must fight acts of intolerance and hate," Greitens wrote in a tweet Monday evening after the vandalism was discovered.

The attack on the cemetery took place sometime between Friday night and Monday morning, when the damage was discovered.

Police have not yet said if the vandalism was a hate crime, but did say they believe an organization and not an individual was behind the crime.

Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery Executive Director Anita Feigenbaum told The New York Times on Tuesday that between 170 and 200 headstones were toppled, with some being broken and damaged.

The headstones are in the cemetery’s oldest section, dating from the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, she added.

“I just am quite shocked — it affects so many people, so many families, so many generations,” Feigenbaum was quoted as having told the newspaper. "This cemetery was opened in 1893."

Lt. Fredrick Lemons of the University City Police Department declined to classify the vandalism as a hate crime.

“Right now, everything is under investigation,” Lemons said, according to JTA. “We’re looking into all possible leads.”

Greitens, a former Navy SEAL whose military awards include the Bronze Star, was elected the first Jewish governor of Missouri in November.

In a post on Facebook he called the vandalism a "despicable act of what appears to be anti-Semitic vandalism."

"We do not yet know who is responsible, but we do know this: this vandalism was a cowardly act. And we also know that, together, we can meet cowardice with courage," he wrote, according to JTA.

"Anyone who would seek to divide us through an act of desecration will find instead that they unite us in shared determination. From their pitiful act of ugliness, we can emerge even more powerful in our faith," added Greitens.

Immediately following the announcement of the vandalism, the Chesed Shel Emeth Society, which owns the cemetery, posted a message on Facebook informing families with relatives buried there that it is "assessing the locations and damage and will post names that are affected as soon as we are able. Many monuments are facing down and we won't be able to read the names and see if there is any damage until we lift the stones."

In an update Tuesday afternoon, the society said a local monument company had begun to replace the monuments on their bases. It said it would try to have a comprehensive list of the toppled monuments posted by Wednesday.








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