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A Torah belonging to a George Washington University fraternity was desecrated over the weekend, Brotherhood and University officials said.
Members of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and top school authorities have condemned what they call an anti-Semitic attack.
“Our entire chapter is outraged and saddened by this blatant act of anti-Semitism and violence against our brothers,” the department at Washington, DC School said in an Instagram post.
It is unclear who carried out the vandalism, which included damage to cabinets and a smoke detector in addition to the Torah. The city’s Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime, according to a police report shared with NPR. The university’s police department is also involved in the investigation.
“I condemn anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred, discrimination and bias in our society,” GW President Thomas J. LeBlanc said in a statement. “The violation of the Torah scroll is a direct and serious act of hatred and an attack on Judaism and the Jewish people.”
Laundry detergent was poured on a Torah inside the fraternity house on campus, department chairman Chris Osborne told CNN. He told The GW Hatchet, a student newspaper, that other religious texts stored in the basement of the home were undamaged even though a Bible was being moved. (NPR contacted Osborne for comment, but did not respond immediately.)
Brotherhood members also said hot sauce was smeared on the kitchen table and fire alarms were torn off the walls, the newspaper reported.
Tau Kappa Epsilon, a men’s social fraternity, says it has more than 225 “active chapters and colonies” in the United States and Canada. Osborne estimated that about a quarter of the fraternity’s members are Jews, according to GW Hatchet.
People turned up for a meeting earlier in the week to show solidarity with the fraternity, which said it continued to work with officials “to bring justice to the GWU community.”
The university authorities also announced that they were increasing police patrols around the fraternity house and had sent more GW staff to stay there.