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Northeastern police probing act of anti-Semitic vandalism at university Hillel house

Northeastern University.Ruby Wallau/Northeastern University/Wallau, Ruby

Northeastern University officials are investigating a recent act of anti-Semitic vandalism at a Hillel House near its Boston campus, school President Joseph E. Aoun said Wednesday.

Aoun confirmed the probe in a letter to the university community.

“Yesterday I learned that a sacred religious symbol, known as a mezuzah, was desecrated at Northeastern’s Hillel House near the Boston campus,” Aoun wrote. “The Northeastern University Police Department is investigating this incident; at this time they do not believe the suspect is affiliated with the university.“

Aoun said no matter who’s responsible, the “despicable act” has greatly distressed members of the university’s Jewish community.

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“They are experiencing firsthand an instance of senseless hate, coming at a time when the ancient scourge of anti-Semitism is on the rise across the U.S. and around the world,” he wrote. “We must respond first with compassion and empathy. We must offer an endless well of support, standing in unity with our Jewish classmates, colleagues, and friends.”

The president vowed that the hateful vandalism won’t shake the university’s commitment to fairness, respect, diversity, inclusion, and resilience.

“I ask each person within our community to do at least one thing today to embrace and exemplify those values, no matter how small the act,” Aoun wrote. “By living our core values, we affirm our shared humanity.”

Hillel members had tweeted about the troubling case shortly after the vandalism was discovered over the weekend.

Yoni Michanie, a doctoral student at Northeastern and reserve sergeant in the Israel Defense Forces, tweeted that the act had left him saddened.

“Saddening to have come into Northeastern University’s Hillel to find the mezuzah ripped from the building’s entrance,” Michanie tweeted. “Authorities have been contacted and an investigation is being carried out. Hopefully the individual/s responsible for this will be held accountable.”

Another Northeastern student, Elie Codron, also took to social media to inform the public about the vandalism.

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“We came to the @NU_Hillel yesterday morning for daily morning services and discovered the mezuzah had been ripped from the entrance,” Codron tweeted Tuesday. “The Police opened an investigation.”

On Wednesday, the Northeastern Hillel group tweeted out a video of Codron speaking out against the act of bigotry. The group tweeted that students on Wednesday morning “affixed a new and bigger Mezuzah” onto the doorway.

“Someone took a mezuzah down, we’re going to put 100 new mezuzahs on campus,” Codron says in the brief clip to applause. “We’re going to put a new one right here right now, and hopefully we’ll continue putting more” up.



Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.