Pennsylvania Police Say Drexel University Prof Stole Signs From Synagogue

Drexel University president John Fry said a faculty member is on leave while the university evaluates the circumstances.

Illustrative photo, Wikimedia

A Drexel University professor allegedly participated in a mass theft of items from a synagogue in a suburb outside Philadelphia, a local NBC affiliate reported on Tuesday.

Mariana Chilton, 56, a professor of health management and policy at Drexel, has been accused of stealing pro-Israel signs from the Main Line Reform Temple in Lower Merion Township, traveling there from her neighborhood of residency, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. Chilton allegedly drove the getaway car while two other accomplices, Sarah Prickett and Sam Penn — who is from New York — trespassed the synagogue and absconded with the loot.

“We are just taking them because we feel like it is a representative of genocide,” Chilton told law enforcement after being caught in the act, the report stated. She then, after offering to “just put them back,” refused to identify herself and comply with other lawful orders.

Video evidence provided by a local resident placed Chilton and her accomplices at the scene of the crime, and a Main Line Reform Temple official identified the signs recovered from her car as the temple’s property. That was enough for law enforcement to charge her with several offenses, including conspiracy and theft. She is also charged with driving without a license and not registering her vehicle.

In an open letter shared with The Algemeiner on Wednesday, July 3, Drexel University president John Fry said that Chilton “has been placed on administrative leave while the university evaluate all the circumstances surrounding the allegations in light of relevant policies while also assessing the impact on Drexel’s educational program.”

He added, “While Professor Chilton is entitled to the presumption of innocence, the alleged actions for which she has been criminally charged are deeply troubling.”

Experts have told The Algemeiner in the past academic year that while the conduct of anti-Zionist students should be reported on, the role of faculty in fostering and engaging in antisemitic acts should be closely scrutinized. Last semester, anti-Zionist faculty attached themselves to anti-Israel, pro-Hamas demonstrations, sometimes breaking the law by preventing officers from dispersing unauthorized demonstrations and detaining lawbreakers.

At Northeastern University in Boston, professors formed a human barrier around a student encampment to stop its dismantling by officers, and at Columbia University, anti-Zionist faculty at the school, as well its affiliate Barnard College, staged a walkout in support of the demonstrations and demanded the abeyance of disciplinary sanctions against anti-Zionist students — dozens of whom cheered Hamas and threatened more massacres of Jews similar to Oct. 7 — who violated school rules.

Chilton’s case is unlike any other reported in the past year, however. While dozens of professors have been accused of abusing their Jewish students and encouraging their classmates to bully and shame them, none are alleged to have resorted to stealing from a Jewish house of worship to make their point.

Mass participation of faculty in pro-Hamas demonstrations marks an inflection point in American history, Asaf Romirowsky, an expert on the Middle East and executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, told The Algemeiner in April.

Since the 1960s, he explained, far-left “scholar activists” have gradually seized control of the higher education system, tailoring admissions processes and the curricula to foster ideological radicalism and conformity, which students then carry with them into careers in government, law, corporate America, and education. This system, he concluded, must be challenged.

“The cost of trading scholarship for political propagandizing has been a zeal and pride among faculty who esteem and cheer terrorism, a historical development which is quite telling and indicative of the evolution of the Marxist ideology which has been seeping into the academy since the 1960s,” Romirowsky said. “The message is very clear to all of us who are looking on from the outside at this, and institutions have to begin drawing a red line. The protests are not about free speech. They are about supporting terrorism, about calling for a genocide of Jews.”

Dion J. Pierre writes for The Algemeiner, where this article first appeared.

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Pennsylvania United States Swords of Iron Antisemitism