Philadelphia resident Tarek El-Messidi led an effort that united Muslims in raising money to restore a Jewish cemetery that was recently desecrated in St. Louis. The campaign vastly exceeded expectations, raising more than $133,000 so far — that’s well over six times the initial fundraising goal.
Now, some of that money is being raised for something closer to home.
Saturday night, more than 500 headstones at the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia were vandalized, continuing a string of anti-Semitic vandalism and bomb threats at cemeteries and Jewish community spaces across the country. Police haven’t made any arrests as of Monday morning, but officials have roundly condemned the act and say they’re working to find the perpetrators.
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. And the Muslim-led campaign organized by El-Messidi and Linda Sarsour, a leader of the Women’s March on Washington, is now offering up some of its funds to repair the damages.
Organizers posted this on their fundraising page at 4 p.m. Sunday:
We have just been informed of another Jewish cemetery – this time in Philadelphia – that was vandalized. We are currently reaching out to them to offer funds from this campaign to repair the damages.
El-Messidi posted a video on Facebook Sunday from the Mount Carmel Cemetery, in which he says “to see this happening in the city where I live is just crazy, and it’s insane.”
“It seems that since we went way over our goal of $20,000 last week for the St. Louis cemetery, that we now have funds to help here,” he said in the video. “And I’ve been speaking to some of the rabbis at the cemetery that showed up… and I’ve told them that we Muslims will help again. Just as we helped in St. Louis, we are going to help here in Philadelphia.”
In addition, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, one of the country’s oldest American-Muslim organizations, released a statement Sunday saying it deployed a team to Philadelphia to assist.