Metro-East News

Vandalism at St. Louis Jewish cemetery part of national trend

News of vandalism at a St. Louis Jewish cemetery Monday drew harsh reaction from area leaders.

KMOV reported that Chesed Shel Emeth, a University City, Mo. cemetery that was founded in the late 1800s, had been hit by vandals over the weekend. Hundreds of headstones had been knocked down or vandalized. Police are reviewing surveillance video in an attempt to find out who was responsible.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens denounced the vandalism, calling it “a cowardly act” in a post on his Facebook page.

Today, Missouri witnessed a despicable act of what appears to be anti-Semitic vandalism at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery. ...

Posted by Eric Greitens on Monday, February 20, 2017

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said those responsible were “a disgrace to our region.”

A fundraiser to help pay for repairs at the cemetery surpassed its $20,000 goal Tuesday. As of 6 p.m., nearly $26,000 had been raised. The fundraiser was organized by Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American-Muslim, and Tarek El-Messidi of non-profit organization CelebrateMercy.

Bomb threats were called into 11 Jewish community centers across the nation Monday, according to news reports and the Jewish Community Center Association of North America. All of those threats turned out to be hoaxes. It is the fourth time Jewish community centers have been targeted since Jan. 9.

In all, there have been 69 incidents at 54 Jewish community centers in 27 states and one Canadian province, according to The Jewish Community Center Association of North America. The organization lists all of the incidents.

St. Louis native Andy Cohen, host of the Bravo show “Watch What Happens Live” addressed the situation on his program Monday night. Cohen said he has relatives who are buried at Chesed Shel Emeth.

“We can’t allow acts of hate against anyone to become normal,” Cohen said.

The Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis in a statement said it stood with the Jewish community.

“We as a Muslim community strongly deplore the incident of vandalism and hate against (the) Jewish community and stand with them in this difficult time as they are also dealing with bomb threats to eight to 10 centers all over the country,” said Helal Ekramuddin, the Islamic foundation chairman.

Don O’Brien: 618-239-2626, @DOBrienBND