Local leaders' statements on Jewish cemetery vandalism

Leaders from all over the area are speaking out to condemn the actions over the weekend.

After the toppling of nearly 200 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in University City this weekend, leaders around the area have been releasing statements about the damage.

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens released a statement on Facebook:

As many of you know, yesterday Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis was vandalized.
One measure of a community's strength is what we do in moments like this. We can choose to cower, or we can choose productive action and shared service. We can turn a vile act into a moment for resolve and a demonstration of our state's faith.

At 3:00 PM on Wednesday, February 22nd, we will be bringing together a group of volunteers to help clean up the cemetery. There are simple things that need to be done—but at times like this, it's simple things that send a powerful signal about who we are as a state and as a community.
There is a concept in Jewish teaching and thought known as tikkun olam. It translates literally into “repairing the world,” but what it means more broadly is that we all have an obligation to one another and to be of service. It is in moments like this that the world is in most need of repair, and we must do our part.

My team and I will be there tomorrow, and I'd invite you to join us. If you'd like to help, please be there ready to work at 3:00 PM. If you have supplies to spare, please bring what you can of the following: rakes, large garbage cans and garbage bags, work gloves, five-gallon buckets, non-chlorine bleach, and wash rags.

The cemetery is located at 7550 Olive Blvd, University City, MO, 63130. We will be working until the close of the cemetery at 4:00 PM.

There are many of you that cannot join us but who still want to help. The Jewish Federation of St. Louis has put out a call for donations for the restoration and security of the cemetery. Please consider a contribution: https://www.jfedstl.org/emergency-response/.

I welcome you to join us as we rebuild in this moment, and I look forward to seeing many of you tomorrow.

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger released the following statement:

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger has offered all possible assistance from St. Louis County to Director Anita Feigenbaum and her staff at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, the site of weekend vandalism in which more than 100 headstones were damaged. Chesed Shel Emeth is one of the area’s oldest cemeteries, serving the St. Louis region’s Jewish community for over 125 years.

“This senseless desecration cannot be tolerated,” Stenger said. “I have reached out to offer any help that the County can provide.  In addition to arresting and punishing those responsible, there will need to be extensive repair work to return the cemetery to the respectful, peaceful state that family members and the community expect.”

County Executive Stenger also contacted Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League Karen Aroesty to condemn the desecration and offer any possible assistance.  Aroesty is a member of the St. Louis County Human Relations Commission.  

“We are committed to responsive and responsible government that promotes tolerance, understanding and inclusiveness,” Stenger said.  “There is no place for this reprehensible conduct in St. Louis County.” 

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay made his statement on Twitter:

Senator Roy Blunt released the following statement:

“The disgusting acts of vandalism at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery are an affront to the values we hold dear as Americans,” Blunt said. “An attack against any faith compels all people of faith to come together in unyielding support for our neighbors, and unequivocal condemnation of the horrendous attack they have suffered. Together, we will make it clear to the perpetrators of this desecration that they have done nothing but strengthen our resolve to defend the rights of every faith and individual in our community. I extend my deepest condolences to the families that have been most directly affected by this attack, and thank the law enforcement personnel who are working to bring those responsible to justice.”

The Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic-Relations released a statement, which reads in part:

The Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Missouri) and the Imam Council on Metropolitan St. Louis (ICMSTL)  - a body that represents 18 Islamic Centers in the Metropolitan area - today condemned the vandalism targeting a historic Jewish cemetery in University City.

The Imam Council will be encouraging Muslim congregations to donate money to help repair damages in the Jewish cemetery.
 
SEE: DONATE: Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery
https://www.launchgood.com/project/muslims_unite_to_repair_jewish_cemetery#/
Vandals Wreck Headstones at Historic Jewish Cemetery in St. Louis
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2017/02/20/vandals-jewish-cemetery-st-louis/98180764/

In a statement, Imam Mufti Asif Umar said:

“This is a horrific and disgusting act of vandalism which cannot be tolerated. We stand with our Jewish friends who have also faced numerous bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers across the Country. We hope the perpetrators of these crimes are swiftly caught and brought to justice.”

IMCSTL wrote a letter of solidarity to the various Jewish centers in St. Louis.

SEE: Imam Council Letter to the Jewish Community
https://tinyurl.com/h74qzlq

© 2017 KSDK-TV


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