VT librescu

Rabbi Zvi Zwiebel (center) holds a Torah as he dances in front of the Librescu Jewish Center on Wall Street in Blacksburg at the conclusion of a ceremony to dedicating the Torah in memory of slain Virginia Tech professor Liviu Librescu.

Leaflets with hand-drawn swastikas were found this weekend strewn across the lawn of the Chabad Librescu Jewish Student Center at Virginia Tech, officials said Sunday.

Rabbi Zvi Zweibel, the center’s co-director, said he was shocked Saturday afternoon to discover about 100 leaflets scattered in front of the Chabad House, located just off campus on Wall Street.

“It’s something that I never believed would happen in Blacksburg,” he said.

The incident came a day after the center announced it would bring Holocaust survivor Rabbi Nissen Mangel to campus for an event on April 24. The event is meant to honor professor Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor who was killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings when he blocked the door of his classroom so students could escape through windows.

Zweibel has been at the center for eight years and never experienced a similar incident. Blacksburg and the Tech community have embraced the center, he said, making Saturday’s incident all the more surprising.

“Hate crime is not something that normally happens in Blacksburg,” he said.

Blacksburg police are investigating. Lt. Mike Albert said in an email police took a report about 4:40 p.m. Saturday. Albert declined to comment further.

The center has organized a “solidarity event” for 5:30 p.m. Monday at the Graduate Life Center Plaza. Zweibel, Virginia Tech police Chief Kevin Foust and others are scheduled to speak.

Zweibel said he hopes the event will raise awareness of such acts of anti-Semitism.

“My hope is to fight darkness with light and promote good actions instead of hatred,” he said.

Virginia Tech’s Jewish Student Union reached out to President Timothy Sands via Twitter asking for support in light of the incident.

The president responded on Twitter: “The propagators of hate may be among us, but they are not welcome in our community,” the tweet reads.

Sands also included a link to a Feb. 26 statement to the Tech community in which he said “hate and bias incidents will not be tolerated” at the university.

Casey Fabris covers business for The Roanoke Times, where she has been a reporter since 2015. Previously, Casey covered Franklin County.

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