Anti-Semitic Hate Crime at GWU

( Last weekend, vandals broke into a George Washington University fraternity house in what is considered an anti-Semitic attack.

The break-in occurred Saturday night, October 30, at the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. While it is unclear who perpetrated the vandalism, DC Metro Police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

Vandals damaged cabinets, tore out smoke detectors, smeared hot sauce on the kitchen counter, and desecrated a Torah scroll by tearing it and pouring laundry detergent inside. Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter president Chris Osborn told the university newspaper that while no other sacred religious texts stored in the basement were damaged, a Bible was stolen from the property.

In a statement, George Washington President Thomas J. LeBlanc condemned the vandalism, calling the desecration of the Torah scroll “a direct and serious act of hate, and an attack on Judaism and the Jewish people.” LeBlanc reaffirmed that the George Washington University community condemns “all forms of hatred, discrimination, and bias.”

Tau Kappa Epsilon is about one-quarter Jewish. The fraternity said that it uses the Torah scroll for its ceremonies like swearing in new members.

On Monday, members of Tau Kappa Epsilon and other GW students held a demonstration on campus. Some members carried with them the ripped and detergent-soaked Torah scroll as they chanted and marched. The demonstrators said they chose to celebrate their religion and respond with love.

Rabbi Yudi Steiner of the Rohr Chabad at George Washington University encouraged those at the demonstration to respond to darkness with light.

According to the police report, the vandalism occurred when no one was at the fraternity house and is being investigated as a suspected hate crime. The house is located about a block away from campus police, providing extra police presence as the investigation continues.

The American Jewish Committee has called on law enforcement and George Washington University officials to act swiftly in identifying and apprehending those responsible for the vandalism. The campus police department is working with the DC Metro Police Department to identify the perpetrators.

Tau Kappa Epsilon was founded in 1899 at Illinois Wesleyan University. It is one of the largest collegiate men’s social fraternities in North America with 229 active chapters and colonies, and over 292,000 lifetime members.