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July 11, 2017 5:29 pm

Colorado Jewish Cemetery Promised $100,000 by BDS Activist Linda Sarsour in March 2017 Says Money Still Hasn’t Arrived

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Linda Sarsour (right). Photo: Screenshot.

A Jewish cemetery in Colorado that has fallen into severe disrepair has yet to receive a check for some $100,000 from a group associated with Palestinian-American BDS activist Linda Sarsour, despite being promised the money several months ago, The Algemeiner learned on Tuesday.

Neal Price of the Golden Hill Cemetery in Lakewood, CO said he had left three unreturned voicemails for Tarek El-Messidi, the founder of non-profit Islamic education organization Celebrate Mercy, who led the high-profile effort by the Muslim community in February and March to raise money for vandalized Jewish cemeteries in the US. El-Messidi’s partner in the effort was Sarsour.

Price has been the primary caretaker of the Colorado cemetery for 35 years, and has tried doggedly to raise money to restore the area containing 800 graves of impoverished tuberculosis victims, buried there in the 19th and 20th centuries. Over the years, Price said there have been numerous false starts in his attempts to get grants for landscaping and security for the site.

“The Jewish community has many needs, and the focus is mostly on the needs of the living, or the active part of the cemetery,” he said.

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Price was first told about the Celebrate Mercy campaign’s money by Jennifer Goodland, a local who had never before been intimately involved in the cemetery rehabilitation efforts.

The campaign — named “Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery” — had raised $162,468 through the Muslim crowdfunding site LaunchGood, far beyond its set goal of $20,000. A total of $50,000 was distributed to three Jewish sites that had been vandalized: Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis, MO ($40,000), the Waad Hakolel Cemetery in Rochester, NY ($5,000) and the Chicago Loop Synagogue ($5,000). The director of the Missouri cemetery confirmed to The Algemeiner the receipt of the check, while other news sources have reported the New York and Illinois locations got the money as well.

El-Messidi and Sarsour also made public announcements that funds raised would go to fix Jewish graves in Philadelphia desecrated in February. Locals in charge of the Pennsylvania effort said they were approached by Celebrate Mercy, but they turned down the money as they were not in need of further assistance.

On March 24, the Celebrate Mercy campaign organizers announced on the website:

With extra funds raised, we have decided to embark on a major project to restore a neglected and vandalized Jewish cemetery in Colorado which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Costs will be over $100K. Learn about the story of this historic cemetery here. We are now hoping to raise a total of $200,000 to ensure we have the funds for this project while helping other vandalized sites as well.

The $200,000 mark set for Golden Hill did not appear to have been reached by the time the campaign ended on May 31.

Ted Ruskin, who has been involved with Golden Hill since 1989, took El-Messidi on a well-publicized tour of the cemetery in April. He told The Algemeiner in May that El-Messidi seemed “willing and ready to give the money,” but he had no contact with Celebrate Mercy following that visit.

Price, Ruskin and others involved in the cemetery restoration effort met in June to determine what to do with the Celebrate Mercy money.

“We divvied up the tasks to get bids on landscaping, a fence and other security,” said Price. “Plans are in place. We just need the money.”

But Price has not heard from Goodland for weeks. At his most recent attempt to get in touch, Goodland’s husband, David Lustig, told him that she was sick.

Goodland spoke with The Algemeiner on Tuesday. She described herself as a “person who works by opening my mouth to the right people, and getting grant money by connecting people with the right people.” She became interested in Golden Hill after her mother, a reporter, wrote about the site for a local paper. Goodland said that El-Messidi contacted her after reading that article and expressed interest in helping out the effort.

Goodland said she was last in touch with El-Messidi over Facebook at the end of the Ramadan fasting period, which concluded on June 24.

She said she expected the money would eventually exchange hands, though it might take time.

Despite Price’s three calls to El-Messidi, Goodland pinned Price’s inability to connect with the Celebrate Mercy founder on the former’s lack of understanding about crowdfunding and social media (the best way to reach El-Messidi, according to Goodland, is Facebook).

“Neal is used to the formalized traditional structure [of grant-giving],” Goodland said. “We need to get Neal in front of Facebook Messenger or something. You know, Tarek is raising money for multiple causes at the same time, and he had a lot going on with Ramadan and dealing with Islamophobia.”

Goodland added that she and Lustig would like to “make Golden Hill our priority,” but that for the last few years, she has been working through a disability and her husband has been recovering from a “severe TBI [traumatic brain injury].”

Going forward, she noted, “I will be kicking to a support role on Golden Hill and my husband will be working on the project full time.”

Concerns were raised about El-Messidi and Sarsour’s handling of the crowdfunded money earlier this year. In May, Sarsour accused Jewish New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind of “put[ting] out lies…without any backup, to cast doubt and to defame me,” after Hikind wrote on Facebook about the Celebrate Mercy crowdfunding effort: “How much of that money — if any — actually went to these cemeteries?”

Price told The Algemeiner that he has no expectation that he will ever see the Celebrate Mercy money.

“I’ve been doing this [non-profit work] a long time, so I know how it works,” said Price. “You need budgets and time tables, and none of that is here.”

El-Messidi did not respond to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment by press time.

UPDATE: In a response she issued following the publication of this story, Sarsour told The Algemeiner that El-Messidi was “awaiting a proposal from the cemetery for potential costs so they can be allocated. This proposal/estimates have not been delivered to Tarek and Celebrate Mercy, who too have to maintain the intention and integrity of the donations received. We promised people they would all go to helping Jewish cemeteries and that’s where they will all go.”

This story was changed following publication to include the correct spellings of the names of Jennifer Goodland and David Lustig.

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  • joey_c

    1. as of when we had the original exchange 3 weeks ago, they had indicated that they will disburse it to relevant organizations as they receive meritorious proposals. given that they already disbursed money to the sites that were vandalized, it’s not clear to me what your hurry is.

    2. do you have any evidence that they promote the implementation of shariah in the u.s.?

    3. so what if he supports b.d.s.? you say that like it’s an objectively bad thing and not just a political choice that you disagree with. did i miss the part where people in this country are no longer free to make their own political decisions?

    4. “Why don’t they hand over the money raised to a Jewish charity to
    distribute it as needed and then nobody will question their honesty or
    motivation”
    why don’t the koch brothers hand over their charitable donations to the open society foundation, or vice versa? people who run non-profits are allowed to decided how the funds they raise will be used. who are you to demand otherwise from one group on the basis of their religion?

  • joey_c

    what really happened to the money:

    “A total of $50,000 was distributed to three Jewish sites that had been
    vandalized: Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis, MO ($40,000), the
    Waad Hakolel Cemetery in Rochester, NY ($5,000) and the Chicago Loop
    Synagogue ($5,000).”

  • joey_c

    how does your comment square with the fact that they disbursed $50K to three jewish sites that actually suffered vandalism, while the site that is complaining about not receiving funds was not even vandalized and only needed money to correct its own neglect of maintenance?

  • Melc

    Golden Hill Cemetery’s mistake was trusting them in the first place. Look to all the peace agreements they broke with Israel. Hello-o-o?

  • Dave Sanderson

    Just another Muslim scam, taking donations intended to help others and KEEPING them for themselves.

    • joey_c

      “A total of $50,000 was distributed to three Jewish sites that had been
      vandalized: Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis, MO ($40,000), the
      Waad Hakolel Cemetery in Rochester, NY ($5,000) and the Chicago Loop
      Synagogue ($5,000).”

      yup, clearly keeping the donations for themselves.

      • bow man

        what about the other $112k?

        • Michael Barnett Radovsky

          $112,468 funds a lot of terrorism and her BDS.

  • vayacondios

    That money will arrive with a messenger who will be riding on a White Stallion….

  • vayacondios

    This Fake Activist has Jewish groupies who support her and cheer her on….

  • vayacondios

    When Halal Pigs Will Get Airborne……

  • Hilltop Watchman

    Oh COME ON people, what did you expect? Sarsour made an announcement to signal her virtue, never intending to deliver, it is always the case, while gullible fools swallow the lies every time.

    You can be sure that Sarsour and her following cockroaches will demonise anyone who asks where the money is, as “grabbing Jews” or similar.

    Write it off, the Jewish community and supporters should do the work and hire a 24hour ARMED GUARD with instructions to kill as allowed by the second amendment.

    The time for hand-wringing and cringing is over.

    • joey_c

      ” Sarsour made an announcement to signal her virtue, never intending to deliver”

      except she did deliver. it says so in the very article you’re commenting on. “A total of $50,000 was distributed to three Jewish sites that had been vandalized,” including the st. louis cemetery that it was the initially stated goal of the campaign to help. they also tried to give money to a site in philadelphia that turned them down.

      meanwhile, as per the update published on this piece, the colorado site (which was not actually vandalized at all but rather requested money to correct its own failure to perform maintenance and upkeep) still has not sent a detailed proposal/budget for the use of funds from the organization sarsour is working with. at this point, since they’ve complained about a potential donor in the press, i would not be surprised if they redirected their money to other sites that were actually vandalized.

      “You can be sure that Sarsour and her following cockroaches will demonise
      anyone who asks where the money is, as “grabbing Jews” or similar… The time for hand-wringing and cringing is over.”

      disgusting yet morbidly impressive that you manage to complain about someone else “demonising” people while calling a group of people cockroaches. that language sounds familiar, hmm, where have i heard it before… oohhh right, that’w what the hutus said about the tutsis before killing 800,000 of them with machetes. combined with your ambiguous assertion that “[t]he time for hand-wringing and cringing is over” you have made a very malicious comment.

  • Mr_Cohen
  • Melissa Howe Pomeranz

    Shocking the antisemite who hides behind her alleged support for our dead while defaming our living hasn’t followed through on these funds. Linda Sarsour is vile!

    • joey_c

      “A total of $50,000 was distributed to three Jewish sites that had been
      vandalized: Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis, MO ($40,000), the Waad Hakolel Cemetery in Rochester, NY ($5,000) and the Chicago Loop Synagogue ($5,000).”

      yeah, clearly there was no followthrough.

  • RichieM

    And you never will.
    “Price told The Algemeiner that he has no expectation that he will ever see the Celebrate Mercy money.”
    Exactly!

  • Fred

    To promise and to hate does not cost anything. Linda practices Taqqyia ( oficial lying ).

  • Laura P. Schulman

    Sarsour is most likely interested in helping fill the cemetery, not fix it.

    • vayacondios

      Spot on….Good one Cheers…

  • Craig Eisenberg

    Linda Sarsour is a liar and fraud. Don’t expect the mainstream to report this story.

  • A.S.F.

    Look into the coffers of the Anti-Zionist organizations Linda Sarsour associates with, as well as her own bank accounts ( I am sure she has a few) or those of her terrorist extended family. She may have also “mistakenly misplaced” some of those donations with Black Lives Matter or Jewish Voices for Peace, since they work closely with each other to espouse the cause of “Anti-Zionism.” If she has been found to have committed Fraud or worse, charge her appropriately–and publicly.

  • Bill Pearlman

    She’s antisemitic vermin. Is anyone really surprised

    • joey_c

      you: “She’s antisemitic vermin. ”

      the article you’re commenting on: “A total of $50,000 was distributed to three Jewish sites that had been
      vandalized: Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in St. Louis, MO ($40,000), the
      Waad Hakolel Cemetery in Rochester, NY ($5,000) and the Chicago Loop
      Synagogue ($5,000).”

      those two things do not line up.

  • Mesh

    Has a lot going on dealing with islamaphobia. Says it all

    • Michael Barnett Radovsky

      A phobia is an irrational fear of something that is not real and doesn’t exist. Islam and sharia are real threats, so therefore there is no such thing as Islamophobia.

  • Koorosh Rahimi

    She is a fraud, plain and simple.

  • Ron Jeffry

    did anyone really believe she was gonna give the money???

    • joey_c

      yet it says in the very article you’re commenting on that she in fact already did give the money to the sites that were actually vandalized.

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