Michael Thomas/ Getty Images
Volunteers from a local monument company help to reset vandalized headstones at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Missouri, February 22, 2017. Michael Thomas/ Getty Images
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Support Pours In for Vandalized Jewish Cemetery Near St. Louis

J.K. Rowling, the Imam of St. Louis, and Missouri’s Jewish Governor have all voiced their concerns, preached unity

by
Zoë Miller
February 22, 2017
Michael Thomas/ Getty Images
Volunteers from a local monument company help to reset vandalized headstones at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Missouri, February 22, 2017. Michael Thomas/ Getty Images

When J.K. Rowling praises your crowdfunding campaign, it’s bound to increase backers.

On Wednesday, after the Harry Potter author tweeted about the efforts of two Muslim activists—Linda Sarsour and Tarik El-Messidi—to raise funds for the damaged Chesed Shel Emeth cemetery in University City near St. Louis, donations to their campaign more than tripled. Up to 200 headstones at the historic cemetery were toppled by vandals last weekend.

Sarsour, a Palestinian-American, is a vocal critic of Israel and a supporter of the BDS movement. She was also one of the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington.

Sarsour and El-Messidi were able to meet their goal of $20,000 in three hours of the campaign’s launch on Tuesday and they’ve received a total of nearly $90,000 in donations as of this publishing. The surplus money will go to other vandalized Jewish centers around the country.

Sarsour and El-Messidi’s initiative echoes a similar message of unity put forth by the Imam of St. Louis and composer Mohammed Fairouz in a Tablet op-ed earlier this month. Inspired by a conversation with a Crown Heights rabbi about swastikas graffitied in the Brooklyn neighborhood, he wrote,

[A]s an Arab, a Muslim, a person who works in the creative/intellectual industries, a journalist, and an American, I appeal to my Jewish readers for your guidance and leadership. In the face of the despair that we face, we must rediscover the ancient and beautiful alliance we had at Alhambra, that fabled fortress in Andalusia, Spain, where Jews, Muslims, and Christians coexisted. I believe that we can do much more than just stumble through the next few years and survive. I believe we can thrive. And so I am asking you to join your hand to mine.

Eric Greitens, Missouri’s first Jewish Governor, also weighed in on the matter on social media. “Anyone who would seek to divide us through an act of desecration will find instead that they unite us in shared determination,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “From their pitiful act of ugliness, we can emerge even more powerful in our faith.”

Described by Tablet’s Armin Rosen as “a Republican with little in the way of a fixed set of political views, and one of three former Navy SEALs to be elected to a major office,” Greitens invoked the concept of tikkun olam in his response to the incident, stating in a subsequent Facebook post that he would be helping volunteers clean up the cemetery on Wednesday.

No matter how we practice tikkun olam―by donating to a crowdfunding campaign, having an interfaith dialogue, or volunteering in our communities―the important thing is that we do practice it, actively choosing to repair the world so that we can thrive, together.

Zoe Miller is Tablet’s editorial intern. Follow her on Twitter here.

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