Jewish Torah Scroll Is Vandalized at George Washington University Fraternity House; Police Are Investigating

The Jewish Torah scroll desecrated at GW Fraternity house.
Anti-Defamation League, Washington, DC Regional Office

“I want to be clear: I condemn all such acts of antisemitism and all forms of hatred, discrimination, and bias in our community,” GW President Thomas LeBlanc said.

A Torah scroll was vandalized and desecrated at a fraternity house at George Washington University during an apparent break-in over the weekend, CNN reported. Police and campus police are investigating what some students are calling a “hate crime,” according to published reports. 

“This weekend the on-campus house of the Alpha-Phi Chapter of Tau Kappa Epsilon was broken into, vandalized, and Jewish texts were desecrated,” the fraternity said in a statement on Instagram on Sunday. “Our entire chapter is outraged and saddened by this blatant act of antisemitism and violence against our brothers. We are cooperating with university officials and the ADL.” 

Tau Kappa Epsilon Chapter President Chris Osborne told CNN that laundry detergent had been dumped on some of the religious texts, specifically a Jewish Torah. Osborne said that there was a Christian Bible and a Jewish Torah in the room, and only the Jewish Torah was vandalized. 

“We believe it was an act of anti-Semitism,” Osborne told the news outlet.

Osborne said members of the fraternity had been away at the time and the damage was discovered on Sunday by one of the fraternity members, who reported that the kitchen cabinets, a smoke detector, and wiring had been damaged or destroyed, CNN reported.

He said that one resident of the home had been asleep upstairs during the time of the break-in, CNN reported. 

George Washington University President Thomas LeBlanc called the incident “disturbing,” and said in a statement that “any act of antisemitism is an attack on the entire GW community and cannot, and will not, be tolerated.”

"I am appalled by the antisemitic vandalism that occurred at the TKE fraternity house, especially the desecration of the Torah scroll,” LeBlanc said. “I want to be clear: I condemn all such acts of antisemitism and all forms of hatred, discrimination, and bias in our community."

The DC Metropolitan Police Department and the campus police are actively seeking out the perpetrators, LeBlanc said in a message to the university community.

Campus police had increased patrols in and around the area of the house, and several university staffers are staying at the fraternity house, the university president said.

“The safety and well-being of our community has been and will remain our foremost priority. I recognize that members of our community are feeling less safe on our campus after this incident, and we are taking every action to rebuild a sense of trust and safety,” LeBlanc said. 

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called the incident “hateful” and posted a message on Twitter along with photos of the damaged Torah covered in blue liquid after the fraternity asked them to look into the incident.

"Very disturbed to learn about this hateful incident that took place overnight at the TKE fraternity house on GWU's campus," the ADL Washington DC chapter said. ”We've spoken with students & reached out to campus PD. We expect a full & rapid investigation.”

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