As many as 200 headstones were “toppled and damaged” at the Chesed Shel Emeth Society Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.
The vandalism comes as concerns increase about targeting of the Jewish community, as Jewish Community Centers around the United States receive another wave of threats.
First Daughter Ivanka Trump, who is Jewish along with her husband and children, spoke out against the harassment.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Police Have Hesitated to Call it a Hate Crime
According to USA Today, police “would not say whether they are considering the incident a hate crime.” That’s because it’s still under investigation.
Authorities are reviewing surveillance footage in an attempt to capture the vandals, USA Today reported.
First Daughter Ivanka Trump was among those speaking out against the vandalism. Hillary Clinton urged Donald Trump to speak out about the cemetery violence and bomb threats. A few days ago, President Trump called a Jewish reporter a liar when he asked about anti-Semitism rising since the election. On February 21, Trump denounced the attacks as “horrible.”
2. The Vandalism Comes After Reports of Bomb Threats at Jewish Community Centers
According to NBC News, the FBI was investigating new threats against at least 10 Jewish Community Centers across the country on February 21.
“Centers in Alabama, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas and New York” reported the threats, NBC reported.
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that it’s the fourth wave of bomb threats called into Jewish Community Centers in five weeks and that they appear to be from the same “serial caller.” According to JTA, “A total of 48 JCCs in 26 states and one Canadian province received nearly 60 bomb threats during January.”
Some of the centers were evacuated.
3. People From Around the Country Have Rallied Behind the Cemetery
Anita Feigenbaum, executive director of the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, told the St. Louis Post Dispatch “It’s hard to even express how terrible it was. It was horrible.”
The vandalism happened over the weekend, the newspaper reported. She said, though, that people had been calling to help with clean up and to donate money to help the center that runs the cemetery.
4. The Historic Cemetery Dates to 1893
According to USA Today, the cemetery is historic, dating to 1893.
The center’s website says, “Chesed Shel Emeth Society has been serving the St. Louis Jewish community for over 125 years, emphasizing traditional Jewish integrity, reverence and respect. It operates in accordance with Jewish tradition as is telling from its name: Chesed – loving kindness; and Emeth – Torah Truth and integrity. This has been a hallmark of Chesed Shel Emeth since its founding.”
It was formed by Jewish immigrants from Russia, according to the website.
5. Missouri’s Governor Called the Vandalism ‘Despicable’
The governor of Missouri posted a statement on Facebook decrying the vandalism as “despicable.”
Gov. Eric Greitens also called it a “cowardly act.”