Anti-Semitic vandalism at UBC being investigated as a hate crime

A Jewish student in residence is shaken after their mezuzah was vandalized last month. Ria Renouf reports the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.


VANCOUVER (CityNews) — A Jewish religious symbol was ripped from a student’s doorway and vandalized at a residence on UBC’s campus, and the incident is now being investigated by the RCMP.

On July 22, a mezuzah was removed, the encased prayer scroll was damaged.

Rabbi Kylynn Cohen explains the significance of the symbol which is affixed to the doorways of Jewish homes around the world.

“A mezuzah is technically a cloth, it’s a scroll that has a few verses from Deuteronomy on it. Which is then encased on something, and then hung on doorposts, because the verses from Deuteronomy tell us to hang the verses on doorpost,” she says.

“It’s a very outward facing Jewish symbol. It’s a sign of home. It’s a sign of a place you would pray, a place you would eat, a place you would live.”

A spokesperson for the university says the incident is being investigated by both campus authorities and the Mounties.

“This incident is completely unacceptable and we are taking it very seriously. Behaviour of this type is not acceptable in residence, or anywhere else at UBC, and if those found responsible are student residents, they will face significant repercussions – up to and including eviction,” writes Associate Vice-President of Student Housing & Community Services, Andrew Parr.

“In consultation with the resident, we shared information about this occurrence with others in their residence community to both shine a light on and reaffirm how unacceptable this type of activity is in our community and to encourage reporting information that may aid the police investigation.”


Cohen says this is not the first time something like this has happened on campus, although she couldn’t comment on the specifics of other anti-Semitic acts.

“I’m saddened to hear that this is something that the campus community has been dealing with,” she says.

“It’s really difficult to feel these attacks. It’s also particularly troubling when it’s at someone’s home.”

Further, Cohen says acts of hate targetting Jewish students have an impact on the university community that goes beyond the harm caused to the person targeted.

“Anti-Jewish vandalism is so much bigger than just knocking down something from someone’s door, it creates an environment which hurts the recipient, hurts all of us, not just Jews. Any sort of discriminatory act discriminates against everyone. It’s just not a reflection of the world I think we want to build and live in.”

“This is a problem that we would like to not be a problem anymore.”

CityNews has reached out to the RCMP for comment.

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