I am writing about an incident that occurred on Saturday in one of our dorms when a student was awoken early in the morning to the sounds of laughter and indications of potential vandalism outside his room. Later in the morning, he discovered his Mezuzah had been taken from his doorpost. For those who don’t know, a Mezuzah is a piece of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah. It is contained within a decorative case that is traditionally affixed to the doorposts of Jewish homes.
Regardless of intent, the removal of this important symbol of Jewish faith is antisemitic and has caused harm. This is a moment from which we can all learn. All members of our community should feel comfortable displaying and expressing their faith, and all members of our community should respect those displays and expressions. We are all responsible to each other.
Upon learning of this incident, TUPD immediately launched an extensive investigation and spoke to all relevant parties. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to identify the person or people responsible for the removal of the Mezuzah.
This incident comes amidst a documented rise in antisemitism across the nation, within higher education, and at our university. As I shared with faculty and staff in a town hall last week, we have launched an initiative to understand how antisemitism manifests itself at Tufts. This initiative includes focus groups and a survey of all undergraduate students that will go out next week. Your participation in this process will help us fulfill the initiative’s goal of understanding antisemitism at Tufts better and proposing concrete suggestions on how to address it.
While that effort is in its early stages, I encourage each of you today to reaffirm your commitment to the values of our university. As our Jewish community celebrates the High Holy Days, I encourage each of you to reach out to your friends and colleagues who may be hurting today. It is imperative that members of our Jewish community know that they have our complete support.