By Adam Shimer
Vandals targeted the menorah outside of the Tannenbaum Chabad House on October 25th at 12:57am. This is the third time in 6 months that the menorah has been attacked, with Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, the executive director of Chabad House, stating that this time the structure is beyond repair.
Video surveillance shows two males, presumably Northwestern students, quickly knocking the menorah down before casually walking away. The Evanston Police Department completed a report on the incident and is in the process of doing a follow-up investigation. The perpetrators have not yet been identified.
Rabbi Klein believes that not only should members of Chabad House and the Jewish community be troubled by this event, but also all members of the larger Northwestern community. He noted that the perpetrators did not appear to be at all inebriated, saying this made their intentions all the more alarming.
“It is a vandalization of a religious symbol,” he said. “I don’t believe there is anyone on this campus, and especially students, who don’t know the symbol of a Hanukkah Menorah. These are two individuals, [who] look like students, walking down Orrington, who decided to throw over and harm a religious symbol. And that is something important for the Northwestern community because we need to be sensitive to the religious symbols and the holy symbols of all faith communities.”
More troubling, Klein noted, is the frequency with which these events are now happening on campus compared to years past:
“We put up this menorah in 1990 and up until 2010 it had never been vandalized. It is sad that in 2014, the menorah has been vandalized on 3 separate occasions in less than 6 months. The question is why. What types of conversations are happening now to make sure that this doesn’t happen again in the future?”
Emily Fraser, a freshman in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences who does not identify as a member of the Jewish community or Chabad House, agreed with Rabbi Klein.
“This event bothers me because I pride Northwestern on being a religiously tolerant and open community and this goes completely against that,” she said.
Adam Stewart President of the Chabad House student executive board and s Weinberg senior, thinks that this event demonstrates that the Northwestern community still has room for improvement.
Stewart said the event “really shows that there is still work to do in terms of promoting openness and acceptance of other religions both here at Northwestern and in the world at large.” He was adamant, however, that the Chabad community would not be negatively impacted by the event.
“This will not affect any programming at Chabad moving forward, and will only serve to strengthen our vibrant community,” he said.
Rabbi Klein similarly wishes for a positive conversation to be started from this event:
“I hope that anyone that has any information about the two individuals comes forward and lets us know so that we can have a dialogue with the people responsible and can discuss with them why this type of behavior is unacceptable.”
“Lets turn a negative into a positive,” he said.