Philadelphia Jewish community feels 'threatened' after gravestones toppled

The vandalism in the Philadelphia cemetery comes a week after over 150 headstones were knocked over and damaged in a Jewish cemetery in Missouri.

Dozens of Jewish graves were vandalized in a Philadelphia cemetery this weekend, marking what may have been the latest in a recent string of anti-Semitic attacks.

The Jewish cemetery of Mount Carmel in the Wissinoming neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia was found vandalized on Sunday morning, the perpetrators are still unidentified. When they arrived, they were met by a man who told them three headstones belonging to his relatives were knocked over and damaged, authorities said.

"This is part of the Jewish resistance", Ari Lev Fornari, a rabbi at the Kol Tzedek Synagogue in Philadelphia, said in a video taken at the cemetery and posted on Facebook.

Meanwhile, several fundraisers to support the cemetery have been set up and efforts to stand in solidarity with the families of those whose loved ones had their headstones desecrated are in the works.

A swastika made of human feces, discovered in a dorm bathroom last week at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), has.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney's office assured the public whoever is responsible "will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law", and added, "hate is not permissible in Philadelphia".

University City Police investigating the vandalism have yet to determine whether it was a random act or a case of anti-Semitism, according to the St. Louis Jewish Light.

The ADL has recorded a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents since Trump was elected president and the most recent round of bomb threats "appear to be coming in from the same person or persons", Greenblatt said.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has stated that they will begin raising funds to help fix the cemetery.

More than 50 bomb threats targeting the Jewish community have also been reported across the country since the beginning of the year, including scares at Jewish community centers in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Milwaukee. "And there's plenty of people from the Philadelphia community and the world that don't share the same views as the people that did these activities and were here to show there's more love than hate". Police, who are still searching for the culprits, classified the incident as institutional vandalism.

Vice President Mike Pence joined Missouri Governor Eric Greitens - who is Jewish - in helping to clean up the desecrated cemetery last week.

The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 then offered an additional $3,000 reward, police said.

Tarek El-Messidi, along with Linda Sarsour, started the campaign, titled "Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery", on February 21, after more than 170 gravestones were found to have been toppled outside St. Louis. And once again, members of the Muslim community are rallying to help. I'm reminded of how this community came together after the incident in Charleston, South Carolina, that affected my denomination, and how many of these people stood together with us. "#Philadelphia Jewish cemetery desecration is shocking and a source of worry".

"This is a despicable act of vandalism- these acts of hate can not be tolerated", said Casey.

  • Audrey Hill