Speed Reads

Let's not make this a thing

Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia vandalized, one week after similar St. Louis desecration

On Sunday morning, police in Philadelphia were called to Mount Carmel cemetery to look into the vandalism of three tombstones. They discovered between 75 and 100 headstones knocked over in the Jewish cemetery, which dates back to the mid-1800s. "It's criminal. This is beyond vandalism," said Detective Capt. Shawn Thrush. "It's beyond belief." The desecration in Philadelphia, believed to have taken place Saturday night or early Sunday, comes a week after vandals knocked over 154 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, and amid a rash of bomb threats being called in to Jewish community centers.

Local and state leaders denounced the destruction at Mount Carmel, as did Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon and several U.S. Jewish groups. After the St. Louis vandalism, a Philadelphia Muslim, Tarek El-Messidi, raised more than $100,000 to help repair the damage, and the national Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA organization quickly pledged to help in Philadelphia, too. "We are deeply troubled by these rising and ongoing attacks on our Jewish sisters and brothers and members from our Philadelphia chapter are in route to assist in clean up," said Nasim Rehmatullah, the group's vice president.

The Anti-Defamation League, Mizel Family Foundation, and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 are collectively offering $13,000 for an arrest and conviction in the case. Each gravestone will cost $450 to $500 to repair, said Naomi Adler, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, which is collecting donations to return the cemetery to order. You can survey the damage in the Associated Press video below. Peter Weber