ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The intentional desecration of nearly 200 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in University City is causing ripples throughout the community and nationwide.

The Jewish Federation of St. Louis tells KMOX’s Maria Keena the act is disgraceful, but they are not surprised.

Jewish Federation of St. Louis CEO Andrew Rehfeld says the rise of anti-semitism is a problem nationwide, and right here at home.

“It’s certainly unprecedented in the years since I have been living in St. Louis since 2001,” Rehfeld says. “I think that the announcement of what happened, when it was received yesterday, sort of struck all of us as this is just another incident.”

He points out the recent bomb threat at the Jewish Community Center in Creve Coeur.

“We are really mobilizing to turn something very good out of something that was profoundly disturbing,” Rehfeld says.

Whether it’s ruled a hate crime or not – it still involves hate, he says.

However, Rehfeld says support from community – especially the Christian and Islamic communities – has been overwhelming.

The Council on American Islamic Relations’ Faizan Syed tells KMOX they are encouraging Muslim congregations to donate money to help repair damages at the Jewish cemetery.

He says the important thing is to let the Jewish community know they love them and are with them.

“One way for us to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community is for us to be there as support, for us to raise funds that can then be then used to fix the damage that was done,” Syed says.

The Anti-Defamation League is posting a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to an arrest.

Det. Lt. Frederick Lemons with University City police held a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

“We take these types of incidences seriously, and our detectives and patrol officers and the entire University City Police Department [are] working diligently to bring this matter to a close as swiftly as possible,” he said.

Lemons says they have narrowed down the time the vandalism took place to between 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Sunday.

(TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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