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Muslim Activists Start Fundraiser To Repair Vandalized Jewish Cemetery

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When nearly 200 headstones were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis, it was two Muslim activists who led the charge to raise money to repair the cemetery in a wonderful display of unity between the two faiths.

After hearing about the vandalism in St. Louis, Muslim activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi began a crowdfunding campaign on the site LaunchGood.com.

Sarsour and El-Messidi gave the campaign the name Muslims Unite To Repair Jewish Cemetery, setting a goal of $20,000. The campaign reached that goal in a mere three hours, and money continues to be donated to the cause.

“Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America,” reads the campaign page. “We pray that this restores a sense of security and peace to the Jewish-American community who has undoubtedly been shaken by this event.”

El-Messidi said the idea for the campaign came to him after he remembered a story in which the prophet Muhammad stood to observe a Jewish funeral, asking his followers: “Is it not a human soul?”

El-Messidi adds that the campaign “is a great way to show respect and honor for our Jewish cousins.” Both Muslim-Americans and Jewish-Americans have been the target of similar acts in recent months, helping members of the two faiths to find common ground.

“This is really a human issue,” El-Messidi says. “But out of this horrible election cycle, something beautiful has come out of it and (Muslims and Jews have) bonded together to support each other and stand up to this hate.”

The director of the cemetery has been in contact with El-Messidi and will let him know when they have an official estimate for the repairs. If the campaign raises more than the cost of the repairs, the extra money will be donated to other Jewish centers that have been vandalized.

On Wednesday, Missouri Governor Eric Greitens is leading a team of volunteers in helping to clean up Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery.

“There is a concept in Jewish teaching and thought known as tikkun olam,” Greitens said in a statement. “It translates literally into ‘repairing the world,’ but what it means more broadly is that we all have an obligation to one another and to be of service. It is in moments like this that the world is in most need of repair, and we must do our part.”