Student reports mezuzah stolen, returned damaged

A Shenkman Hall resident said a mezuzah was stolen from her door and returned damaged this week, just days after a Torah was desecrated in the on-campus Tau Kappa Epsilon house.

Sophomore Emma Reese said a GW-themed mezuzah – a small scroll of parchment placed on a doorpost traditionally inscribed with Torah verses – was stolen from her door sometime Sunday night. She said the mezuzah reappeared on her door with some damage Tuesday morning after she demanded its return in a Shenkman group chat.

Reese said a wire on the mezuzah was unwrapped and rewrapped onto it, had a torn bead moved from its glued position and appeared to show that someone tried to access the prayers inside. Reese said a hand on the mezuzah that normally points down was turned upwards and said she was “more sad than I am angry.”

“My grandmother was the CEO of a Jewish nonprofit, she got death threats all the time,” Reese said. “My mom – very Jewish – got death threats at her college too. So it just sucks knowing that I’m next in line for this kind of stuff.”

A University spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.

The GW crime log shows an open case reported Tuesday with the charge of “defacing or burning cross or religious symbol” at Shenkman Hall. In a separate case, a student reported she was harassed when an image of a swastika was sent to her residence hall room on Oct. 19.

Reese said someone had been touching her mezuzah without permission since the beginning of the semester – she noticed someone had been straightening the mezuzah on her doorframe despite Jewish tradition to tilt it towards the door.

Reese said she received an “outpouring” of support from Jewish and non-Jewish peers alike after her mezuzah was damaged, which she called uplifting.

“I’m really glad that people are using this as a learning opportunity and as an opportunity to really put it out there that they’re here for us, which is not something we get often,” she said.

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