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February 24, 2017

Tweets by Ellen, J.K. Rowling propel Philly Muslim man's fundraiser for vandalized Jewish cemetery

In just three hours, an online fundraiser spearheaded by a Muslim man from Philadelphia to repair vandalized headstones at a Jewish cemetery near St. Louis met its $20,000 goal.

In the four days since the online campaign launched, it has raised nearly $125,000, as of Friday morning. Any money that’s left after the headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery are repaired will be funneled to assist other vandalized Jewish centers across the U.S.

The campaign was created by a local man, Tarek El-Messidi, who runs the online nonprofit CelebrateMercy, which aims to teach non-Muslims about the religion, and by Muslim activist Linda Sarsour.

The online campaign's goal, aside from the obvious raising of funds, is to promote solidarity amongst Muslims and Jews. On Tuesday, President Donald Trump publicly spoke out against the rise in anti-Semitism since his inauguration.

One of the reasons El-Messidi’s grassroots campaign gained momentum and saw success so quickly was because of a lift from Ellen DeGeneres and J.K. Rowling, who tweeted out the link.

According to the campaign page, at one point, $1,000 in donations were pouring in every 20 minutes. When the Harry Potter author sent out her tweet, the page momentarily crashed.

To view and donate to the campaign, titled "Muslims Unite to Repair Jewish Cemetery," click here. The campaign will continue to collect funds through March 21.