A fraternity on the George Washington University campus was targeted with anti-Jewish hate, including the desecration of the Torah, Sunday morning.
Monday night, members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and their supporters marched on the university campus in response.
“In thinking of how to respond today, we quickly realized that we needed to channel the Jewish tradition of responding to darkness with light,” Rabbi Yudi Steiner, of the Rohr Chabad at GW, said at the demonstration.
A piece of the Torah scroll, the Jewish holy scripture, which had been ripped and soaked with blue detergent, was carried by members of the fraternity as they chanted and marched.
The demonstrators said they chose to celebrate their religion and respond with love.
“You see when hate comes looking for us, we neither hide nor cower, we come out in greater strength and numbers,” Steiner said.
According to a 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.
“It’s awful. It’s disheartening and we have to have shoulders to lean on and be strong together, and be united,” fraternity President Chris Osborne said.
The university president also condemned the crime in a statement.
“The desecration of the Torah scroll is a direct and serious act of hate, and an attack on Judaism and the Jewish people. Any act of antisemitism is an attack on the entire GW community and cannot, and will not, be tolerated,” the statement reads.
Fraternity members said the support shown by the community was important, and they hope it will foster a more inclusive environment on campus.
“We absolutely do feel violated. Where brothers live and work, which is supposed to be the safest place for them, was violated. Fortunately there was no one there, but if someone was there they could have been hurt and that’s unacceptable,” student Joshua Orenstein said.
The American Jewish Committee called on law enforcement and the GW administration to swiftly identify and apprehend those responsible for the act of antisemitism. The campus police department is actively working with the Metropolitan Police Department to identify the perpetrators.