UNIVERSITY CITY, Mo. (KMOX) – Vandals damaged more than 150 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in University City, nearly six months ago.
On Sunday morning, dozens gathered at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery for a re-dedication ceremony.
“While God could not guard this sacred place from harm, God did send so many to repair, reclaim, and re-dedicate,” said Rabbi Roxane Shapiro of the St. Louis Rabbinical Association. “Our help had no barriers and no hate, simply care, compassion, and hope.”
One ceremony attendee came from Philadelphia to witness the work accomplished through funds donated to a campaign his Muslim-based group organized.
Tarek El-Messidi of “Celebrate Mercy” said if there’s a silver lining to such terrible acts of vandalism, it’s that those of Muslim and Jewish faiths in America are talking more, “We saw celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, J.K. Rowling, and others tweeting about it (the fundraising drive). It just went viral. We ended up collecting $160,000 in a matter of days.”
Rori Picker Neiss from the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis remarked on El-Messidi’s assistance, “This was a story of love and friendship, a story of strength, and a story of hope. We will continue to stand together in friendship and solidarity against all forms of hate.”
The Anti-Defamation League still has a $10,000 reward out for tips that lead to an arrest in the cemetery vandalism case.