AEPi fraternity house defaced with anti-Semitic remark

Angelo Fichera and Becky Kerner, The Temple News
February 22, 2012

A fraternity’s house was subjected to vandalism.

When Aaron Wolf of Temple’s Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter woke up today, Feb. 22, and left for work, he found his fraternity’s house had been subject to vandalism, targeting his organization’s religious affiliation.

A blue spray-painted “F— You Jews” and an unidentifiable mark had been applied to the back of the fraternity’s house, on Broad and Norris streets.

“I was the first one to see it. I woke up at 7:30 [a.m.] on the way to work and I passed it. Obviously I’m really offended by that, being [Jewish] myself,” Wolf, president of the Temple University Greek Association and a senior broadcasting, telecommunications and mass media major, said. “I don’t know what to say about it. It’s disgusting to me. I don’t know why someone would feel the need to do that and I don’t know who would do anything like that.”

Although AEPi is an international Jewish fraternity, Scott Rosnov, Temple’s chapter president, said the fraternity is not exclusive to Jewish men.

Rabbi Joseph Domosh of Temple B’Nai Israel in Burlington, N.J., has been the manager of the 2000 N. Broad Street property through the Greek Housing Alliance since 2008.

“I’m angry, I’m upset, I’m hurt. There’s a lot of mixed emotions. My grandparents were persecuted for being Jewish, so for me, this is personal,” Domosh said. “I have a problem that someone thinks it’s OK to put that very ugly statement on a building just because of someone’s religion.”

But those associated with the fraternity said the incident is an isolated one.

“This is an unfortunate incident, and it’s malicious and it’s hurtful,” said Phil Nordlinger, chapter adviser for the AEPi chapter and director of the Edward H. Rosen Hillel for Jewish Life. “It’s not indicative of anti-Semitism that exists on Temple’s campus. This is certainly an isolated incident.”

Barry Morrison, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, a human relations organization that combats anti-Semitism, said his organization is acting as a consultant for the fraternity as it investigates the matter.

“Whenever these incidents occur, it’s important to deal with them in an appropriate fashion,” Morrison said. “To make sure that the incident is very carefully investigated, and that the intended target is given the support and reassurance that it needs.”

Deputy Director of Campus Safety Services Charles Leone said in an email that his department is reviewing campus-wide security cameras to review frame-by-frame activity in the area, and is also increasing patrols.

“Detectives will be canvassing the area, talking with neighbors and anyone who could assist in finding the persons responsible for this horrible act,” Leone said.

Morrison said that it’s important for people to understand that acts of hatred should be seen as everyone’s problem, to “make sure these acts of ugly expression are dealt with appropriately.”

“Sometimes these unfortunate incidents are an opportunity to strengthen ties between groups and the environment in which they occur,” Morrison said. “It’s important to keep these acts in context. They are typically not the work of hate groups, typically they stand alone.”

The Anti-Defamation League, Morrison said, keeps tracks of anti-Semitic acts across the country.

“The [number of] incidents [near Main Campus] are not significant. Temple is not a hotbed of intolerance for Jewish students. On the contrary, it’s a very favorable community,” Morrison said.

Leone said, on the surface, the incident appears to be ethnic intimidation.

“We cannot have this happen, so we will be going hard on this investigation,” he said.

The incident occurred just a day before a planned charity event at the house is slated to take place.

David Silver, a junior advertising major, said the fraternity is hosting “Broad Street Music Lounge,” a weekly, free live-music event that accepts donations that are proceeded to the Save A Child’s Heart Foundation. The nonprofit foundation assists children in developing countries in need of heart surgery.

“[The vandalism is] an awful look and we’re hoping we can get it removed as soon as possible,” Silver said.

“I feel very confident in finding those responsible and prosecuting fully to the extent of the law,” Leone said. “If they are Temple students, they will be processed through the Student Code of Conduct, as well.”

Angelo Fichera and Becky Kerner can be reached at news@temple-news.com.