For a vandalized Philadelphia Jewish cemetery, it’s a new beginning

A visitor to the vandalized Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia views some of the toppled tombstones, Feb. 26, 2017. (Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images)

A visitor to the vandalized Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia views some of the toppled tombstones, Feb. 26, 2017. (Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images)

(JTA) – A Philadelphia Jewish cemetery vandalized in February has been repaired with the help of donations from around the world.

On Tuesday, Mayor Jim Kenney was part of the first official tour of the refurbished Mount Carmel Cemetery, which had 275 gravestones destroyed in the attack.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia led the restoration efforts. Nearly 3,000 individuals from across the world gave donations totaling over $288,000, the federation said in a statement.

“The symbolic first tour will serve as a public display of Jewish Federation’s deep appreciation for the Philadelphia community’s support and encouragement following the vandalism and throughout the extensive repair process,” the statement said.

Hundreds of volunteers, Jewish and non-Jewish, turned out after the vandalism to help clean up the cemetery and start the restoration project. Two Philadelphia labour unions also offered to assist in making the repairs and improving security.

The damage was discovered in late February, days after a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis was vandalized. No suspects have been identified. The cemetery dates back to 1915.

Following his morning tour, Kenney tweeted: “We’ll continue to respond to hate with love & speak out against injustice. Proud of how Philadelphia responded to repair Mt. Carmel Cemetery.”

In addition to fixing and righting the headstones damaged in the attack, another 225 stones that were at risk of falling also were repaired. The remaining funds were used for replacing the fences, filling holes around the restored stones, removing weeds and supplies.

Several hundred more stones also are in need of repair due to their age or vandalism dating back decades, according to the federation, which noted that the stones and their bases can weigh from 1,000 pound to 4,500 pounds.

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