Unknown perpetrators broke into and vandalized the Jewish fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon at George Washington University (GW) in Washington, DC, this weekend, according to a statement posted by the frat on Instagram Sunday. The vandals tore apart a Torah, covered it in detergent and poured hot sauce all over the house.
"Our entire chapter is outraged and saddened by this blatant act of antisemitism and violence," the statement read. "We are cooperating with university officials and the ADL."
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The news was met with an outpouring of anger and sadness from the Jewish community.
Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai condemned the act in a Facebook post on Monday: "The disturbing images of a desecrated Torah scroll on the ground at George Washington University evoke dark days in our people's past. Antisemitism has not disappeared, it is rearing its ugly head in places we would least expect."
"This baseless hate is simply unacceptable in 2021," he added.
Hen Mazzig, an Israeli writer and activist who is a senior fellow at the Tel Aviv Institute, posted images of the aftermath on Twitter. "This isn’t Nazi Germany in 1938. It’s American college campuses in 2021," he wrote.
The Jewish frat house at George Washington University was broken into and its Torah was destroyed. They ripped the scrolls apart and threw detergent on it.This isn’t Nazi Germany in 1938. It’s American college campuses in 2021. pic.twitter.com/l3k5CTeex9— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) October 31, 2021
"As a recent GW Alum, I am very upset about these reports of an antisemitic hate crime and it saddens me to see the prevalence of antisemitism on campus continue to reflect a pattern of the student body," said Noah Shufutinsky, a rapper and digital producer who also works for the Tel Aviv Institute.
"It’s important to stand together as a strong Jewish community at this time, and as a founding father in Greek life, I urge all of my peers to come out against this anti-Jewish bigotry, not only in words but by taking action to address this problem that has consistently reared its head at my Alma mater."
StopAntisemitism.org, a US-based antisemitism watchdog group, called the act "OUTRAGEOUS" on Twitter, adding that "Jewish students deserve to feel safe on campus" and tagging GW's Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Dr. Cissy Petty.
OUTRAGEOUS - a Jewish fraternity house (TKE) at George Wash. U. (@GWtweets) was broken into & vandalized last night as Shabbat was endingThe Torah was ripped apart & had detergent poured all over itJewish students deserve to feel safe on campus @cissypetty - GWPD case 2101009 pic.twitter.com/o2SgBPedQ0— StopAntisemitism.org (@StopAntisemites) October 31, 2021
Petty replied to the tweet: "Horrific. GWPD will investigate. I know this has frightened and hurt many in our community. I am angry and saddened by this disgusting, self-centered act."
This has not been the first act of hate committed against Jews at the university. Last year, someone drew a swastika and a Hitler mustache on pictures of then-president Donald Trump and then-vice president Mike Pence and plastered them to the door of a Jewish student's dorm.
Jewish students at colleges across the US have become increasingly concerned about antisemitism on campus, leading many to conceal their Jewish identity out of fear for their safety. About 43% have personally experienced antisemitism or witnessed antisemitic activities on campus and 15% felt the need to hide their Jewish identity, according to a study conducted by the Anti-Defamation League and Hillel International.
Deborah Dahan and Jeremy Sharon contributed to this story.