In the wake of a hateful desecration of Chesed Shel Emeth, a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis, Missouri, Vice President Mike Pence joined people from many walks of life to show his support for the Jewish community, working with his hands to repair some of the nearly 200 vandalized gravesites. Joining Pence in his visit to the cemetery in University City was Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, a Republican ex-Navy SEAL who is the state’s first Jewish governor.
Before getting to work, Pence, who was given a yarmulke, addressed the crowd, condemning this “vile act of vandalism” and anti-Semitism in general: “There is no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism,” he said. He even went a step further, discussing his recent visit to Dachau and warning of “what happens when hatred runs rampant in a society.” Then, he shed his suit jacket, rolled up his sleeves, donned gloves, and got to work cleaning the cemetery.
Pence’s act comes as a welcome change of tone from the Trump administration. The president, who has faced pressure to condemn American anti-Semitism, repudiated it just one day before his Vice President visited the Midwest. Then Pence got involved in the cemetery’s rebuilding efforts, which is a mitzvah, a small act of tikkun olam.