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Holocaust scholar who became victim of anti-Semitism to ring in Chanukah at Columbia University


Swastikas and the derogatory term "Yid" were found on the walls of the office of Elizabeth Midlarsky, a professor at Teachers College on November 28, 2018. (Rya Inman/Columbia Daily Spectator)

The Columbia Teachers College professor whose office was marred with swastikas Wednesday will defiantly stand against anti-Semitism this weekend when she will proudly light the university’s Chanukah menorah, school officials said.

Professor Elizabeth Midlarsky will ring in the Jewish holiday on Sunday in front of Columbia University’s Low Memorial Library, officials said.

Midlarsky, a Holocaust scholar, found the hate symbols and the word “YID” in red spray paint scrawled on the walls outside her office on the Ivy League campus about 1 p.m.

“It’s very upsetting. It makes me feel very vulnerable,” Midlarsky said Wednesday.

Members of the NYPD’s Hate Crimes Task Force were looking for the vandal Friday.

While the NYPD has a proven track record of hate crime arrests in the five boroughs, Gov. Cuomo jumped into the probe on Thursday and ordered his state police’s Hate Crimes Unit to aid in the investigation. The assistance will include intelligence sharing, state officials said.

The fledgling, 2-year-old state Hate Crimes Unit was created after the 2016 presidential election to counter a jump in bias crimes that occurred after Donald Trump’s election to the White House.

Midlarsky’s been targeted by anti-Jewish hate crime before. In October 2007, a vandal spray-painted a swastika on her office door, and wrote her name and crossed it out. At the time, she was doing higher-profile research on the Holocaust, and protesting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at Columbia that September.

The professor said she’s not currently researching anything controversial, so she does not know why she someone would target her now.

A Columbia University spokesman said scores of students and faculty — both Jewish and not — are expected to attend Sunday’s Menorah lighting “as a sign of unit and to take a stance against bigotry and hate.”

Anyone with information regarding the vandalism is urged to contact NYPD Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.