Philadelphia Mayor visits vandalized Jewish cemetery

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney tours refurbished Mount Carmel Cemetery which was vandalized in February.

Elad Benari,

Vandalism in the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia
Vandalism in the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia
Reuters

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney on Tuesday toured the refurbished Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery in the city, months after it was desecrated by vandals.

Some 275 headstones were toppled and damaged in the incident in February.

The cemetery was repaired with the help of donations from around the world. The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia led the restoration efforts, reported JTA.

Nearly 3,000 individuals from across the world gave donations totaling over $288,000, the federation said in a statement.

“The symbolic first tour will serve as a public display of Jewish Federation’s deep appreciation for the Philadelphia community’s support and encouragement following the vandalism and throughout the extensive repair process,” the statement said.

Speaking during his visit on Tuesday and quoted by local television station WPVI, Mayor Kenney said, "People seem to have no respect or decency when it comes to honoring places like this that should be honored, that should be quiet, that should be peaceful.”

The mayor recalled helping a man lift his father's pushed-over stone in the wake of the vandalism.

"The man was so distraught so I helped him put it back in place, and I wrenched my back doing it - I'm older than I used to be - but he was happy someone there to help him put that stone back in place. Now it is totally fixed," Kenney said.

Following his tour, Kenney tweeted, “We’ll continue to respond to hate with love & speak out against injustice. Proud of how Philadelphia responded to repair Mt. Carmel Cemetery.”

In addition to fixing and righting the headstones damaged in the attack, another 225 stones that were at risk of falling also were repaired. The remaining funds were used for replacing the fences, filling holes around the restored stones, removing weeds and supplies.

Several hundred more stones also are in need of repair due to their age or vandalism dating back decades, according to the federation, which noted that the stones and their bases can weigh from 1,000 pound to 4,500 pounds.

To date, there have been no arrests of suspects in the vandalism.




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