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Security video of SDSU Chabad House vandalism sparks antisemitism concerns

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Posted at 2:44 PM, Jun 28, 2021

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - On Monday, there were heightened concerns about antisemitism at the Chabad House by San Diego State University following another attack that was caught on camera.

"It's just really, really disgusting," said Rabbi Chalom Boudjnah. He shared pictures and video with ABC 10News after two people came early Friday morning, tore a Jewish life banner, and destroyed a large menorah.

"This girl [in the video] looks like she was trying to take the whole thing down and she ended up breaking one of the branches of the menorah," he added.

The two individuals have not yet been identified.

"This is a country that I moved to because of antisemitism. Back in France, I was regularly called a dirty Jew and I was attacked many times," said Rabbi Boudjnah.

Last month, there was a break-in at the same Chabad where mementos were taken. Those involved later posted photos to social media with the stolen items.

"You start to wonder, should I really show my Star of David?" questioned Rabbi Boudjnah who added, "I have a lot of students starting to tell me that they're feeling really uncomfortable and not proud [to show] a display of them being Jewish and that's really, really horrible."

The rabbi said that police are not yet calling this new attack a hate crime.

A spokesperson for the university sent the following statement to ABC 10News:

SDSU received a report on June 25 of evidence of vandalism at the Chabad House. Upon arriving, it was apparent that the large menorah and banner on the entrance had been damaged.

The University Police Department is reviewing video footage and is asking anyone with details to report information to the department by calling 619-594-4636 or emailing policeinvestigations@sdsu.edu. Please reference Case# 21-393.

Immediately after learning about the vandalism, SDSU's administration took numerous actions, including meeting with Rabbi Chalom Boudjnah to extend support and learn more about what had occurred. University Police Department officers were also alerted to the vandalism and deployed officers to the scene to investigate. The university is encouraging all members of the community who need support to rely on the campus support services [sdsu.edu], including those for counseling and psychological services [sacd.sdsu.edu] and to report bias-related incidents [sacd.sdsu.edu].

“This act of vandalism is beyond offensive, but let it not deter us from the important work that has occurred and that is ongoing in support to members of our Jewish community,” said SDSU President Adela de la Torre. “To members of our Jewish community: Our campus community stands with you and is in opposition to every act of bias and discrimination targeting you — all of which fail to undermine who you are and the many positive contributions you make to our community.”

On Friday afternoon, the university also quickly convened a meeting with members of the SDSU Presidential Task Force on Addressing Antisemitism, which is charged with developing programs, courses and response efforts in response to antisemitism.
Risa Levitt, a member of the Presidential Task Force on Addressing Antisemitism and chair of the Department for the Study of Religion and director of the Jewish Studies Program, said: “SDSU is experiencing a significant increase in antisemitic incidents. We hope the broader community will take notice and action. The mass shooting in Poway, vandalism attacks on community centers, and ongoing harassment targeting individuals and groups in the Jewish community leave no doubt that we are being targeted. We hope to see SDSU students, faculty, staff and administration join the San Diegans and San Diego authorities confronting this bigotry.”

“This is an appalling act of antisemitism,” said J. Luke Wood, Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity and Chief Diversity Officer. “With antisemetic assault, harassment and vandalism occurring at higher rates across the nation, these incidents do not push us into the ground; they do the opposite. This event is among a series of events that have occurred in recent months. We remain motivated, will continue to be direct in our support of our Jewish community and will continue elevating the lives and experiences of those within our community. As a university and community, we strongly condemn anti-semitism and hate.

SDSU stands in solidarity with the Chabad House and all members of the Jewish community. Importantly, the Chabad House is an important space of gathering and support for members of or Jewish community, particularly students. There, programs, services and events are held to educate, support and uplift Jewish students. The Chabad House is gathering donations and also running a food drive, and the community is encouraged to provide support by making a contribution [jewishstudentlife.org] online.

A GoFundMe has been created to help the Chabad rebuild the damaged items.