Governor Tom Wolf asks U.S. DOJ to Investigate Rash of Terror Against Jewish Institutions in Pennsylvania

March 02, 2017

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today formally requested that the United States Department of Justice investigate a rash of terror targeted at Jewish institutions in Pennsylvania as a hate crime. These recent instances include the desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia, and bomb threats that caused evacuations of children and seniors at Jewish Community Centers in York and Harrisburg, along with a Jewish day school in Montgomery County.

A copy of the letter can be found here.

The full text of the Governor’s letter is below:

Dear Attorney General Sessions:

I would like to formally request that the Department of Justice investigate the profoundly reprehensible desecration of a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia and threats to Jewish community centers and a day school as a hate crime. The recent rash of terror inflicted on Jewish institutions in Pennsylvania and across the country is incredibly alarming. Pennsylvania was founded to be a safe refuge from religious persecution and we owe those affected by these acts an answer as to whether they were targeted because they were Jewish institutions and whether these are part of a broader threat to Jewish residents.

The destruction of the more than 500 headstones at the Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia is unbelievably disturbing to those whose loved ones are buried there and all Jewish people throughout Pennsylvania.

The long, international history of anti-Semitism and the pain and terror inflicted on Jewish people is well-documented, as I am sure you are aware. Further, the targeting of Jewish institutions like community centers and day schools, along with the recent desecration of cemeteries in Minnesota, Connecticut and New York, give credence in my mind that these are not a series of unconnected and random instances. Clearly, we cannot stand by as these acts continue and Jewish Americans are living in fear of being terrorized – or worse.

While I understand law enforcement is diligently working to identify those responsible, a federal Hate Crime investigation would allow for more resources and ensure that the concerns of all Jewish Pennsylvanians, and those of all faiths standing in solidarity with them, are met.

I would appreciate your swift and decisive action to launch a federal Hate Crimes investigation of the attack on this historic Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia and threats to Jewish Community Centers in York and Harrisburg, and a Jewish day school in Montgomery County. We must reassure people of the Jewish faith that those who seek to make them live in fear will be stopped and brought to justice.


Tom Wolf

Governor of Pennsylvania

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