Vice President Mike Pence surprised Missourians Wednesday when he appeared at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, where a cleanup effort was underway. Earlier this week, vandals pushed over or defaced more than 100 headstones at the Jewish cemetery on the same day that various Jewish Community Centers around the nation received bomb threats.
Pence came to the site after giving a speech about jobs at the headquarters of Fabick Cat, an engine dealer just outside of St. Louis. Upon arriving, Pence gave a short speech to a crowd that had gathered to help restore the cemetery.
“From the heart, there is no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism,” he said. "I must tell you, the people of Missouri are inspiring the nation by your love and care for this place, for the Jewish community in Missouri, and I want to thank you for that inspiration. For showing the world what America is really all about."
Pence thanked Missouri's Gov. Eric Greitens (R), the state's first Jewish governor, before greeting and thanking members of the crowd who had gathered to help with the cemetery's restoration. According to The Hill, Pence then listened during a prayer from a Rabbi before taking part in the cleanup effort himself.
President Donald Trump condemned the vandalism at the cemetery during his speech at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture Tuesday morning, saying, “Anti-Semitism is horrible, and it’s going to stop and it has to stop.”
“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are a painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil," he later added.
At this time, federal investigators are looking into the Jewish Community Center bomb threats, as well as the vandalism at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery.
In addition to the volunteers helping with the restoration effort, group of Muslim started a crowdfunding effort that has raised over $100,000 from more than 4,000 supporters, thanks in part to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling bringing attention to it.