The Latest: Sessions condemns Jewish attacks, threats

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Posted: Feb 27, 2017 7:03 PM
The Latest: Sessions condemns Jewish attacks, threats

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Latest on vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia and a wave of bomb threats at Jewish Community Centers around the country (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and bomb threats at Jewish centers and schools serious, unacceptable behavior and promised the Justice Department will "do what it can to assist in prosecuting anybody" proven to have participated.

Speaking Monday, he called the attacks and threats "a very serious and disruptive practice."

Jewish Community Centers and day schools in at least a dozen states received bomb threats Monday. No bombs were found.

Meanwhile, organizations and volunteers in Philadelphia were making plans to repair and restore hundreds of headstones at a Jewish cemetery vandalized during the weekend.

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5:25 p.m.

A Muslim crowdfunding effort to support a Jewish cemetery in Missouri has raised more than $136,000, and organizers say they will use some of the money for a Philadelphia cemetery where similar vandalism occurred.

The fundraising effort began last week after 154 headstones were tipped over at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb. The money raised so far is nearly seven times more than the original $20,000 goal and will be used to help repair damage and upgrade security.

Also, organizers say some of the money will go to aid Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia, where several hundred headstones were knocked over during the weekend.

The fundraising campaign is scheduled to continue another three weeks.

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5:15 p.m.

A building trades union is offering to repair a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia where vandals damaged hundreds of tombstones.

John Dougherty of the Philadelphia Building & Construction Trades Council calls the vandalism a "cowardly act of anti-Semitism that cannot be tolerated."

He offered to replace toppled tombstones, re-sod damaged gravesites and clean the cemetery free of charge.

The building trades council is the umbrella organization for more than 50 union locals that work in the construction industry.

Steven Rosenberg of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia says vandals damaged several hundred graves at Mount Carmel Cemetery.

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4:45 p.m.

Officials say bomb threats were called into 13 Jewish community centers and seven Jewish day schools in a dozen states.

No bombs were found Monday, and the JCC Association of North America says normal operations have resumed at all 20 buildings.

The group says it was the fifth wave of bomb threats at Jewish institutions around the country since January. The group counts a total of 89 incidents in 30 states and Canada.

In Philadelphia, meanwhile, police are investigating after hundreds of headstones were knocked over at a Jewish cemetery during the weekend.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf calls the bomb threats and cemetery vandalism reprehensible.

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3 p.m.

A security expert who helps Jewish institutions prepare for emergencies says "the Jewish community is back in business" after the latest wave of bomb threats.

Paul Goldenberg is director of the Secure Community Network, a nonprofit founded by several national Jewish groups to bolster security at Jewish institutions. He says Jewish Community Centers and other groups have extensive security protocols in place.

The JCC Association of North America says Jewish Community Centers and day schools in at least a dozen states received bomb threats Monday. No bombs were found.

It's the fifth wave of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers and Jewish institutions since January.

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1:45 p.m.

Jewish centers and schools around the country are coping with another wave of bomb threats as officials in Philadelphia begin raising money to repair and restore vandalized headstones at a Jewish cemetery.

The JCC Association of North America says Jewish Community Centers and day schools in 11 states received bomb threats on Monday. No bombs were found. Officials say many of the buildings have been cleared and have returned to normal operations. The FBI is investigating.

It's the fifth wave of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers and Jewish institutions since January.

In Philadelphia, more than 100 headstones were knocked over at Mount Carmel Cemetery. Police are investigating.

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6:20 a.m.

Money is being raised to repair and restore more than 100 headstones that were vandalized at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia.

A man visiting Mount Carmel Cemetery on Sunday called police to report that three of his relatives' headstones had been knocked over and damaged. The discovery came less than a week after similar vandalism in Missouri.

Police say approximately 100 additional headstones were knocked over, apparently sometime after dark Saturday. Police are conducting a criminal mischief-institutional vandalism investigation.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney says authorities are doing everything possible to find those "who desecrated this final resting place."

The Anti-Defamation League and a police union are offering a $13,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.