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Jewish cemetery

Rabbi Yosef Landa, director of Chabad of Greater St. Louis, speaks at a rededication ceremony at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery on Aug. 6, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Six months after vandals knocked down more than 150 gravestones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, members of the local Jewish community reconsecrated the land and honored the dead.

Despite grey clouds threatening rain, dozens attended the ceremony on Sunday, seeking closure after the grave markers were repaired, and in some cases replaced.

Stones painted with ladybugs and hearts now mark the affected headstones. A little girl in Florida painted the stones. May 2017
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

Executive director Anita Feigenbaum is standing in the rain, amid repaired headstones at Chesed Shel Emeth, the historic Jewish cemetery in University City that made international headlines last February after vandals knocked over 154 grave markers.

“Starting here, you would just see rows knocked down,’’ Feigenbaum said, pointing from beneath her umbrella. “There’s an example of a monument that was totally knocked down. And broken.”

Workers with Rosenbloom Monuments Company re-set headstones at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery on Tuesday morning. (Feb. 21, 2017)
File photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Except for a few broken gravestones and scattered painted pebbles, no visible signs of last month’s vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in University City remain.

Within three days, workers uprighted most of the 154 toppled monuments at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery and resealed them to their bases.

A crowd waits to enter Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery for a volunteer clean-up event in February 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the wake of vandalism at a historic Jewish cemetery last week, the St. Louis region showed an outpouring of solidarity that reflects its long-standing interfaith relationships.

But some faith leaders also said they have renewed urgency to build on these existing bridges and further spread their message of tolerance to a region of diverse religions and backgrounds.

Karen Aroesty, Lynne Wittels and Andrew Rehfeld joined St. Louis on the Air on Thursday to discuss the recent spate of threats against the Jewish community in St. Louis.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

While the more than 150 headstones that were toppled and damaged at one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis have all now been righted, waiting only to be resealed, the damage still felt in St. Louis’ Jewish community is palpable. This weekend’s actions have compounded the emotional damage from a recurring spate of national and local threats made against the Jewish community, including a January bomb threat to St. Louis’ own Jewish Community Center.

Adrian Levin, of St. Louis County, visits Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery to check on the headstones of his wife's relatives. (Feb. 21, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Vice President Mike Pence is speaking out against an act of vandalism this past weekend that left 154 gravestones toppled at one of Missouri's oldest Jewish cemeteries.

Pence made a surprise stop at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City on Wednesday afternoon, where more than 700 people gathered to help clean up and attend an interfaith vigil.

Pence said the outpouring of support showed "the heart of the state."

Workers with Rosenbloom Monuments Company re-set headstones at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery on Tuesday morning.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 10:15 p.m. with additional information from the cemetery. — The Jewish community throughout the St. Louis area is trying to understand what’s behind an act of vandalism that left 154 gravestones toppled in one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in the state of Missouri.

The damage happened some time over the weekend and was first noticed by workers making the rounds at the University City cemetery on Monday morning, according to Chesed Shel Emeth’s executive director, Anita Feigenbaum.