Jewish Governor of Missouri Invokes “Tikkun Olam” in Call to Repair Vandalized Cemetery

February 22, 2017

2 min read

Missouri’s Jewish governor, Eric Greitens, invoked the Torah-based Hebrew concept of “tikkun olam”, or “fixing the world”, in a call for volunteers to help repair dozens of vandalized headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis on Wednesday.

The attack, which left over 200 headstones at the Jewish burial ground toppled or damaged, was discovered on Monday morning and immediately garnered strong condemnation from politicians and Jewish groups. Greitens called the vandalism “despicable” and “cowardly”.

In a Facebook post, the governor asked for volunteers to join him at the cemetery on Wednesday in order to clean up the damage. He referenced a fundamental Jewish ideal as inspiration for the community effort.

“There is a concept in Jewish teaching and thought known as tikkun olam. It translates literally into ‘repairing the world,’ but what it means more broadly is that we all have an obligation to one another and to be of service,” he wrote.

“It is in moments like this that the world is in most need of repair, and we must do our part.”

In a different show of community solidarity, Muslim-American leader and outspoken supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement Linda Sarsour organized a crowdfunding campaign calling on Muslims to donate funds for repairing the damage.

Entitled “Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery”, the campaign aims to “send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America.”

Its original goal of raising $20,000 was quickly surpassed, with donations reaching over $57,000 as of Wednesday morning.

Sarsour is a Palestinian activist who has expressed support for the anti-Israel BDS movement. However, she is apparently eager to reach out to the Jewish-American community – much of which also supports the Palestinian cause. Sarsour campaigned for Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist Jew who repeatedly condemned Israel in the strongest of terms.

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