Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia target of vandalism

A view of the overturned graves in Philadelphia from a local news report

Tombstones at the cemetery date back at least to the mid-1800s. In an email, a police spokesman said the public "must allow the investigation to take its course before we can determine a specific motive or label as a particular type of crime". Jim McReynolds of the police department's Northeast Detectives Division.

People from across the country have reached out in the wake of extensive vandalism at the cemetery.

Police say up to 100 graves were affected, while locals claim up to 500 tombstones had been overturned, according to ABC6. He said what happened at the cemetery was a sad sign of the times when bigots feel "empowered, emboldened to act out".

Later on Sunday, an interfaith group gathered at the cemetery to try to begin repairing the damage.

The Catholic cemetery is about two miles away from the Jewish cemetery.

The attack comes almost a week after authorities in St. Louis said vandals there damaged 154 headstones at a suburban Jewish cemetery.

Cemetery desecration was part of the infamous Kristallnacht in Germany, the initial step in the program of Nazi genocide against the Jews of Europe.

Yosef Goldman, a local rabbi, who was also trying to restore the cemetery with others said: "We're turning upright the stones that are light enough for us to do so". The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5 is offering an additional $3,000 to the reward.

However, these incidents have brought together the Jewish and Muslim community during the hour of huge need. "Since we raised well above the goal, we can now use extra funds to help here in Philadelphia".

"Seeing this in person was very devastating", El-Messidi wrote on Facebook. "But the fact that there's so many, it leads one to think it could have been targeted", he told the station. "I don't know what would make somebody do this", said Rosenberg.

After the vandalism in St. Louis, Vice President Mike Pence addressed a crowd of about 1,000 people in the city.

The racial attacks have increased over the past year in the United States as Muslim and Jewish communities get assaulted as a routine now. "We believe we need to be protecting our fellow humans from this extremism". He said the remaining amount will be used in future if there is another vandalism case. When they arrived, they were met by a man who told them three headstones belonging to his relatives were knocked over and damaged, authorities said.

Zevit said the sheer scope of damage he saw at the cemetery was heartbreaking, but not fear inducing.

We especially feel for the suffering of our Jewish friends.

"The vandalism of Jewish headstones at a Phila. cemetery is a cowardly, disturbing act", tweeted Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.

Social media users responded with outrage.

On Tuesday, after facing pressure to condemn the vandalism in St. Louis, President Trump called anti-Semitism "horrible" and vowed to take steps to counter extremism. Stop this incubator of #Antisemitism and other hate.