PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A $69,000 reward is being offered for anyone with information leading to an arrest in connection to the vandalism of hundreds of gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Northeast Philadelphia.
Authorities said the damage was reported just after 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Mount Carmel Cemetery in the Wissinoming section of the city.
An estimated 300 gravestones were found toppled and vandalized. A team of helpers are trying to put the gravestones back up.
Naomi Adler, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, says this act is unacceptable.
“We are incredibly disgusted by the nature of this act.”
Regardless of the motives, she says this brings up a dark history.
“There are a number of people who have this hearken back to the Holocaust or to other Anti-Semitic act. Whether or not this is an act of anti-semitism, it brings up those memories and those fears.”
Jennifer was among those who heard about what happened. She came by to show support for those hurting.
“I don’t know why anything like this would happen. Somebody did something and maybe they weren’t thinking, or maybe they were thinking too much.”
This comes less than two weeks after Holy Redeemer Cemetery in the city’s Bridesburg neighborhood was vandalized. More than 30 tombstones were found knocked over by a man walking his dog.
It’s unclear if there is any connection between the two incidents.
Mayor Jim Kenney released the following statement on the vandalism of Philadelphia’s Mount Carmel Jewish Cemetery.
“My heart breaks for the families who found their loved ones’ headstones toppled this morning. We are doing all we can to find the perpetrators who desecrated this final resting place, and they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Kenney said. “Hate is not permissible in Philadelphia. I encourage Philadelphians to stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters and to show them that we are the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.”
Gov. Tom Wolf called it “truly reprehensible.”
“Any anti-Semitic act or act of intimidation aimed at Jewish institutions and people in Pennsylvania is truly reprehensible and we must find those responsible and hold them accountable. This is not who we are as Americans or Pennsylvanians,” Wolf said in a statement. “We will not take these threats and acts lightly and I have asked the Pennsylvania State Police and Office of Homeland Security to offer their full resources towards protecting these institutions and finding those responsible.”
Last week, a Jewish cemetery in suburban St. Louis reported that more than 150 headstones had been vandalized, many of them tipped over.
Through their generous support, the following have donated monetary rewards for information leading to an arrest and conviction:
▪ The Mizel Family Foundation and the Anti-Defamation League is offering a $10,000 reward
▪ An anonymous donor is offering a $10,000 reward
▪ Councilman Allan Domb is offering a $12,000 reward
▪ Mayor Kenney’s office is offering a $15,000 reward
▪ The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5 is offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to an arrest “ONLY”.
CBS 3’s Joe Holden and KYW’s Kristen Johanson contributed to this report.