On February 26, 2017, Philadelphians saw a horrendous act of vandalism occur at Mt. Carmel Jewish Cemetery in the city’s Northeast section.
In response, residents have stood up asking how they can support their neighbors — and defend Philadelphia’s values of diversity, tolerance, and inclusion.
A Stand Against Hate rally will gather on Independence Mall at noon on Thursday, March 2, 2017.
Mayor Jim Kenney released this statement shortly before visiting the cemetery.
My heart breaks for the families who found their loved ones’ headstones toppled Sunday morning. We are doing all we can to find the perpetrators who desecrated this hallowed resting place, and they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Hate will not be tolerated in Philadelphia.
I know Philadelphians stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters and I’ve been moved by the number of you who have reached out to ask how you can help.
On Thursday, March 2, 2017, there will be a community gathering to Stand Against Hate at Independence Mall. The event will happen at noon at Independence Mall and all are welcome.
If you would like to offer your support by making a donation, the Jewish Federation, a local Philadelphia organization is accepting donations to help with cleanup and repair. Tarek El-Messidi, a Philadelphian and Muslim, started a crowd-funding campaign to help the Jewish cemetery in St. Louis that was vandalized, and will use additional money to help Philadelphia. Tarek wanted to send a united message of solidarity between Jewish and Muslim communities and that is exactly the kind of unity I’m proud to see originating from Philadelphia.
In addition to donating, there are other ways you can stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters. The Interfaith Walk for Peace and Reconciliation occurs in April and is an opportunity to show support for our neighbors of all faiths. The Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Walk Against Hate occurs every May. Founded to stop the Defamation of the Jewish people, now the ADL fights all forms of bigotry through information, education, legislation, and advocacy. The Interfaith Center has some great resources and opportunities for you to get more involved.
Please note, the cemetery cannot support huge crowds of people, so rather than show up, we encourage you to support them in these other ways. We also want to ensure that professionals are lifting the stones. If you’re still interested in reaching out, please send an email through the Jewish Federation’s website.
Finally, please remember, if you see a hate crime being committed, you should call 911 immediately. You can also report it to the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR).
This was a hateful event, and although it happened here in Philadelphia, I want to urge all of you to remember what we stand for: To remember that we are the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. To remember that we’re stronger together.
And to our Jewish neighbors, please know that your City stands with you.