Editor’s Note: This story includes mention of antisemitism.
An IU student was charged with stealing a mezuzah, an important object in Jewish culture, from the door of a Bloomington home and partially burning it Sept. 29.
Jeremy Chung Ho Park Patzelt, 19, faces trial on charges of two counts of criminal mischief. Criminal mischief, a Class B misdemeanor, is defined by Indiana law as reckless, knowing or intentional damage or defacement of another person's property without the other person's consent. If convicted, he could face up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
The incident occurred on North College Avenue, according to Bloomington Police Department Captain Ryan Pedigo. Patzelt's initial hearing is scheduled for Nov. 15. A warrant was requested but not issued since the subject was summoned to court instead, Pedigo said.
A mezuzah is hung on the door of a Jewish house to follow Jewish commandments, remind its residents of their commitment to Judaism and designate the home as Jewish. It consists of a case containing a small scroll, which must be preserved as was originally written to remain religiously valid, according to Chabad.
Related: [IU Hillel opens new Jewish Culture Center]
Bloomington has faced several notable anti-Semitic incidents within the past year. Most recently, there was an incident early this month where a mezuzah was taken off an IU student’s apartment door and set on fire.
Last winter, six acts of vandalism depicting swastikas were reported in three weeks. In February, anti-Semitic comments were posted on IU greek life website Greek Rank. And, over the summer, a local coffee company was criticized for alleged use of neo-Nazi imagery and language.