Stanford, CA – A mezuzah on the apartment door frame of two Jewish graduate students living in a residence hall was removed Tuesday, the last day of Rosh Hashanah, according to a University post on the Protected Identity Harm Reporting website.
The Department of Public Safety is investigating the matter, according to the post, which noted that the incident “likely meets the legal definition of vandalism or theft” and could rise to the level of a hate crime.
A mezuzah contains an important blessing in Judaism and is attached to doorposts and gates as a symbol of faith. “Targeting of mezuzahs is a form of intimidation and bigotry to the Jewish community,” the post said.
The two students filed a Protected Identity Harm report, a part of the University’s process to address incidents where community members experience harm based on their identity, according to the post.
A University spokesperson declined to comment on which residence was impacted or whether the identities of the perpetrators are known at this time. The spokesperson directed The Daily to the public post about the incident.
According to a Friday email sent to members of Stanford’s Jewish community by Rabbi Jessica Kirschner, the incident occurred in Escondido Village Graduate Residences.
“This is absolutely unacceptable behavior, antisemitic, and a betrayal of the values of the Stanford community,” Kirschner wrote in the email.
Kirschner, the executive director of Hillel, Stanford’s Jewish community center, told The Daily the University confirmed the incident in a phone call to her after the report was filed.
She said upon receiving the phone call she felt saddened and frustrated. She said a mezuzah is an integral part of how Jewish people come into spaces and claim them as their own.
“When proud markers of identity are taken down it is an attack on the way of thinking about what it means for all of us to belong in our particular communities,” she said. “If someone did this deliberately, it’s a way of saying ‘you don’t belong here.’”
Sophia Danielpour ’24, co-president of the Jewish Student Association, noted that the incident followed an earlier “struggle the Jewish community faced” this year when Rosh Hashanah, one of the major holidays marking the beginning of the Jewish year, fell on the first two days of classes.
She said she was disappointed by the allegations.
“I feel strongly for the students who were affected,” she said. “It shows that antisemitism still exists on campus and it’s very real and active.”