CelebrateMercy is a small Muslim not-for-profit with only three full-time staffers, but in the past year and a half, it has created crowdfunding campaigns that have raised $400,000 for Jewish cemeteries, synagogues and a Holocaust memorial.
The campaigns started in February 2017, after more than 100 headstones were overturned at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis amid a nationwide spike in anti-Jewish hate crime. Within months, though, a Jewish politician in New York City, Dov Hikind, started asking whether the money was really going to its purported beneficiaries. He implied that the campaign was suspect because Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American activist who supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, was helping to lead it.
Most of the money — from that first campaign and a second one inspired by the massacre of 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue — has been distributed, the Forward has determined by speaking with CelebrateMercy founding director Tarek El-Messidi, as well as Jewish leaders who have been working with him.