Columbia University professor Elizabeth Midlarsky responded to recent acts of anti-Semitism directed against her by upping the ante. With the help of a campus rabbi, she affixed a mezuzah to her office doorway.

The combined act of biblical commandment, Jewish pride and defiance came at the end of a Monday morning press conference called by Columbia's Teachers College Jewish Association, which Midlarsky serves as faculty advisor. At the event, the organization called attention to a spate of anti-Semitic and racist incidents at the Manhattan school, including the discovery last week of a swastika spray-painted across Midlarsky's office door.

The defacement came on the heels of three weeks' worth of mailings denying the Holocaust and addressed to the Holocaust studies professor, and last month's discovery of a noose hanging outside an African American professor's office.

"It's a wonderful thing that is being done today," said Midlarsky, referring to the mezuzah, which she put up with the assistance of Rabbi Yonah Blum, co-director of the Chabad-Lubavitch Resource Center of Columbia University. "I feel it is a real act of affirmation."

Blum, whose wife Keren Blum co-directs the Chabad House and also takes classes at the teachers college, saw particular meaning in affixing the mezuzah.

"We are using the cowardly act that was perpetrated here as an opportunity," he said, "to do good and spread the message that a little bit of light drives away a lot of darkness."

There's "definitely been incidents all over" campus, said masters student Amanda Luterman, a native of Montreal, Canada. "It's been a very strange month. Who would have thought that there'd be a swastika on a Jewish professor's door?"

But Luterman, a member of the Teachers College Jewish Association, answered her own question by pointing out that far from being a haven from the evils of the world, Columbia is not immune to acts of hatred. She said that the only proper response is to call out anti-Semitism and racism, wherever it occurs: "The right idea is to speak out against all of these actions."

For her part, Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman assured reporters that the university was working with the city police department to investigate the recent acts of vandalism.