Community volunteers were out in full force to help with the cleanup after vandals desecrated over one hundred tomb stones at Mount Carmel cemetery. And while the destruction has brought the community together, many are fearful that this attack – is just the beginning.
“I can’t believe people would actually come to not only like a Jewish cemetery but any type of cemetery and just smash headstones,” said Mitchell Pisarz, a sophomore brother of Temple’s Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi).
Pisarz was just one of many community members who voiced their concerns this week as volunteers lanscaped, catalogued, and prayed among the fallen tombstones at the Mount Carmel Cemetery in Wissinoming.
Naomi Adler, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia, told Temple Update that although the vandalism was motivated by hate, it may not be an anti-semitic crime.
“We can’t say its anti-semitic, because we haven’t heard directly, there’s no graffiti…we actually have to be careful before we label something. So what we’ve done is said it’s ‘despicable,’ it’s ‘an act of hate,'” said Adler.
Although the perpetrator is still out there, volunteers we spoke with said whoever did this, did not act alone.
John Towarnicki, a volunteer, assumed it was an organized group effort. “Some of these stones weigh a ton a piece, one man is not going to push that stone over.”
But other community members told me that this isn’t the first time something like this has happened in Wissinoming. “We don’t have lights in these areas, we don’t have proper security, we have a lot of things that are lacking, and that cemetery, that cemetery, across the street, they’ve all been hit,” said Dan McIntyre, who lives just a few blocks away.
Philadelphia Police and the FBI are continuing their investigation, but people still feel uneasy after these acts of hate.
“It’s very heartwarming and very humbling to get so many people coming out [to volunteer]. I will tell you it doesn’t make you feel more secure,” said Adler.
McIntyre just wants the problem to be put to rest once and for all.”One person defaced while they rest is too many.”
This wishing to donate to the restoration effort at Mount Carmel Cemetery can donate here.
If you have any information in regards to the vandalism at Mount Carmel Cemetery, please contact the Philadelphia Police Department.