Emotional fallout from the vandalism of a Jewish cemetery is hitting everyone

UNIVERSITY CITY, MO (KPLR) – The emotional fallout from the vandalism at the Chesed Shel Emeth Jewish cemetery in University City runs deep.  In one way or another, it almost seems to have affected us all.

Almost anyone from St. Louis knows someone who's buried there or who has loved ones buried there.

The emotional hit has been felt from both afar and close to home.

Amid the effort to upright the wrong, Tuesday, were the living looking among the dead for the familiar, the reasons the vandalism hurts us all.

There in section B76, near the Appleman and Berger grave sites, we found one of our reasons:  long-time and now retired Fox 2 News anchor/reporter, Paul Schankman.

His parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are buried at Chesed Shel Emeth.

“You see all these names and you forget how many of these people you either knew or you knew somebody related to them … you know it’s a small community here in St. Louis,” Schankman said.

“This is extremely personal for me,” national celebrity, Andy Cohen, said on his Bravo TV show, “Watch What Happens, Live”.

The comedian, producer, and is a St. Louis native.  His great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents are buried at Chesed Shel Emeth.  His mom was among the searchers.

“I was happy that their stones were ok.  But it’s just everybody … it really doesn’t make any difference if it’s my grandparents or your grandparents.  It’s just the whole idea of that hate,” said Evelyn Cohen.

“I saw your (Fox 2) report yesterday … my jaw just dropped,” Schankman said.  “Whether the stone was turned over or not, there’s damage here beyond just the physical damage… and to think that somebody would do that deliberately because it’s a Jewish cemetery.  We don’t know that but if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it’s probably a duck…the Jewish community in St. Louis has been on guard for years.  On the high holidays a lot of the synagogues including our own have police officers on the parking lot.”

The history of Anti-Semitism in St. Louis includes random synagogue shootings decades ago.

The outpouring of help has countered the possibility of this being driven by antisemitism.

Missouri Governor, Eric Greitens will lead cleanup effort at the cemetery, Wednesday.

A lot of people have contacted Fox2 & News 11 wanting to help pay for repairs.

Listed below are websites aiding in the effort to repair the headstones and clean-up the cemetery:

Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery

All Nations Church

Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery