Philadelphia labor unions offer to repair, secure vandalized Jewish cemetery

Marcy Oster

Philadelphia cemetery

A man looking at fallen tombstones at the Jewish Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia, Feb. 26, 2017. (Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images)

(JTA) — Two Philadelphia unions said they will provide free services to help repair and secure the Mt. Carmel Cemetery.

More than 100 gravestones were toppled and damaged at the Jewish cemetery in the city’s Wissinoming section. The vandalism was discovered Sunday.

Bobby Henon, a Philadelphia council member with union ties who represents the Wissinoming neighborhood where the cemetery is located, tweeted Monday evening that the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council offered to replace the toppled headstones and that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Union Local 98 offered to install additional lighting and security cameras.

Labor leader John Dougherty, of the Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council, told reporters that the vandalism is a “cowardly act of anti-Semitism that cannot be tolerated.”

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His workers also offered to re-sod and clean the cemetery grounds.

Meanwhile, a Gofundme campaign for the Philadelphia cemetery launched by a private citizen, Raphael Caroline, 31, in the hours after the vandalism was discovered, has raised nearly $20,000 in 24 hours, double its original goal.

The Jewish Federation of Philadelphia announced that volunteer clean-up of the cemetery will begin on Tuesday at noon and run every day between noon and 4 p.m.

The federation said it will begin cleaning up the cemetery Tuesday, and asked for volunteers.   “Representatives from the Jewish Federation will be on hand as well as up to 50 people per hour cleaning and working to help restore this important Philadelphia landmark,” the Federation said in a statement.

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