A Jewish cemetery in Massachusetts that was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti last week received a $5,000 donation from a Muslim charity to help repair the damage.
That charity, CelebrateMercy, has over the past two years given $115,000 to vandalized Jewish cemeteries and memorials in Missouri, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts and Colorado, and facilitated the donation of around $238,000 to the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Congregation in Pittsburgh after the massacre there last year.
More than 60 gravestones at Hebrew Cemetery in Fall River, Massachusetts were defaced with messages like “Heil Hitler,” “Fuck Israel” and “Oy vey, this is MAGA Country.”
Cemetery groundskeeper Jeffrey Weissman told the Forward that he had received an outpouring of support from around the world. In particular, he recounted receiving an envelope in the mail from “Muslim Americans nationwide to our Jewish cousins of the Hebrew Cemetery of Fall River.” Inside the envelope: A check for $5,000.
“In the spirit of responding to evil with good (as taught by the Prophet Muhammad) that inspired the previous campaign, CelebrateMercy is proud to have supported this community in their time of distress,” the organization wrote on its Facebook page.
CelebrateMercy had been the subject of unfounded conspiracy theories because of the involvement of Linda Sarsour, the controversial Palestinian-American activist, in promoting their crowdfunding campaigns for distressed Jewish causes. Some right-wing activists alleged without evidence that CelebrateMercy and/or Sarsour had somehow pocketed the funds intended for the cemeteries or the survivors of the Pittsburgh attack.
After the distribution of the Pittsburgh funds, CelebrateMercy still had around $52,000 in reserve from its 2017 crowdfunding campaign for targeted Jewish cemeteries, because the Golden Hills Cemetery in Colorado, to which it had already given $45,000 for repairs, decided it did not need any more money. CelebrateMercy founding director Tarek El-Messidi told the Forward last year that he planned to distribute the remaining money through a “rapid-response fund” to be used after “any hate crimes or vandalism that take place at synagogues, or any kind of Jewish institution.”