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Anti-Defamation League offers reward in cemetery vandalism case

UNIVERSITY CITY, MO (KTVI) – The job of putting the headstones back in place at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City could take days.

Families crowded the cemetery Tuesday morning to see if their loved ones’ graves had been vandalized. More than 180 markers had been toppled.

“It’s a human being that was buried, whether the 1800s or today, this is terrible,” said Joan Rifkin, who has loved ones buried at Chesed Shel Emeth. “Who could have done such a horrible act?”

The headstones of Rifkin’s loved ones were not touched, many others were knocked over.

Jan Levin fondly remembers her grandmother who raised her. She was an immigrant from Russia. Her grandmother’s grave marker was toppled but has since been put back in place. Mrs. Levin can’t understand why someone would do such a thing.

“I am hurt, I am mad,” she said. “I’m mad maybe that I can’t stop them, because I don’t know how. I wouldn’t know where to start.”

Crews from the Rosenbloom Monument Company were busy putting headstones back in place, free of charge. Some of the markers weigh upwards of a ton. The monument company had to bring two cranes in to help remove or restore the headstones. It’s a job that could take the rest of the week.

“The difficult ones are in the middle of the section where we can’t reach them,” said Philip Weiss, owner of Rosenbloom Monument Company. “We may have to come in from the lower end (and) move 20 stones to reach five stones.”

The cemetery dates back to the late 1800s. Many of grave markers vandalized were placed before 1960.

You can donate to the cleanup and replacement effort at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery online.