UCF student finds swastikas carved into walls of her apartment

Swastikas found on eve of Yom HaShoah


ORLANDO, Fla. – A University of Central Florida student says she still can't believe that she found swastikas carved into the walls in the hallway at her apartment complex, the University House off Alafaya Trail.

Orange County sheriff's investigators documented the vandalism and said 11 swastikas in various sizes were etched into a hallway with an unknown object.

"You imagine in today's day and age, things like that wouldn't happen anymore. It's just reprehensible," said Rabbi Chaim Lipskier, who heads the Chabad at UCF synagogue.

Rabbi Lipskier said the UCF student who made the discovery is a member of his congregation. He said she called him crying after getting home from services Saturday night.

The student ended up finding nine of the hate symbols Sunday and two more on Tuesday. Not only did the student find the offensive vandalism during finals week, but also just before an important day observed by Jews around the world.

"It couldn't have happened at a worst time in the sense of calendar-wise. It happened on the eve of Yom HaShoah, which is the eve of the Holocaust Remembrance Day," said Rabbi Lipskier.

Management of the University House complex sent an email to all residents late Tuesday night, which read in part, "We want to share our sincerest concern regarding a recent act of vandalism within our community. Acts of vandalism are not tolerated by University House, including acts with such hateful intent."

"I think it's awful," said Hayley Murphy, who lives in the complex. "I think that no matter what you believe, that should never be something that you have to go home to and see, regardless of what your beliefs are or what your views are. You should never disrespect people like that."

The apartment management said action was taken immediately to repair the damage done. They are offering a $500 reward to any information that leads to an arrest.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office is investigating this as a criminal mischief case.

The student who reported the swastikas said she didn't report a separate incident that happened a few weeks ago. She said her mezuzah, which is a decoration Jewish people hang on their door frame with a prayer inside, was broken in half and lying on the floor. She told investigators the prayer was missing.

Rabbi Lipskier said he is pleased with the University's response to this vandalism. He said he met with school officials who are taking immediate action to help investigators figure out who is behind this.

"The anti-Semitic vandalism that took place at an off-campus apartment building is reprehensible," said UCF spokesman Chad Binette.