Muslim-Americans Raise Money To Repair Vandalized Jewish Cemetery

Over President's Day weekend, a historic Jewish cemetery outside of St. Louis was vandalized. Nearly 200 headstones were destroyed in what has been decried by many as an act of anti-semitism in line with the numerous bomb threats leveled against Jewish community centers across the country and vandalism on synagogues and elsewhere.

While this news is nothing short of heartbreaking, there has been a beautiful twist: the Muslim-American community has raised over $117,000 to help rebuild the cemetery—with the first $90,000 raised in just over 24 hours. The fundraising campaign, started by activists Linda Sarsour (who was also one of the co-leaders of the Women's March) and Tarek El-Massidi, reached its goal of $20,000 in just three hours and donations haven't slowed down since. Any funds left over from restoring the cemetery will go towards repairing vandalism at other Jewish centers.

This campaign is especially moving as the lengthy history of conflict between Muslims and Jews is no secret. But as the fundraising page says, "While these senseless acts have filled us with sorrow, we reflect on the message of unity, tolerance and mutual protection found in the Constitution of Medina: an historic social contract between the Medinan Jews and the first Muslim community." El-Massidi said he was also inspired by the story about the Prophet Muhammed who stood up when a Jewish funeral passed. When questioned he said, “Is it not a human soul?”

“That story goes to show more than anything the humanity of the prophet. …We should bring the story to life here and show every person deserves to rest in peace,” El-Messidi told the Washington Post. “This is a great way to show respect and honor for our Jewish cousins.”

The generosity of the Muslim-American community has not gone unnoticed—articles about this act of kindness have been published everywhere from The Times of Israel to CNN.

This isn't the first time the Muslim and Jewish communities have supported one another, either. After a mosque in Texas was burned down, a local rabbi offered the keys to the synagogue so the members would have somewhere to pray. And in Oslo, Muslims formed a "ring of peace" around a synagogue to protect Jews after a spate of anti-semitic attacks.

"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,” the activists wrote on the fundraising 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.”