In 3 inches of snow and temperatures in the low 20s, Alex Groysman, president of the Chabad House Jewish Student Center, stood on a small, makeshift stage and told the story of Hanukkah.
“Stones were thrown at Jewish temples, and Jewish books were desecrated and a menorah was lit for eight days to commemorate the victory,” Groysman said. “Here we are thousands of years later. Our synagogues have had stones thrown at them, our books are desecrated and we are still here lighting the menorah.”
A large crowd of students and Bloomington residents gathered beside the Chabad House on Sunday for “Lighting up Bloomington,” a menorah lighting ceremony and community celebration of Hanukkah.
The event came five days into the Jewish holiday, which has been marred by recent anti-Semitic attacks on campus.
In the past two weeks, eight Hebrew texts were urinated on in Herman B Wells Library restrooms and rocks were thrown at the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center and the Chabad House as well as at a Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program display case. One of those rocks now sits at the base of Chabad’s large menorah.
More anti-Semitic incidents occurred as Zeta Beta Tau’s mailbox was stolen Thursday, swastikas were found on a dry erase board in McNutt Quad on Friday and the president of Congregation Beth Shalom received a suspicious jar of jam on his porch Saturday.
Before the celebration began, people danced arm-in-arm in the snow and sang along to traditional Hebrew songs.
A table was set with pamphlets and a bowl for donations to help repurchase the damaged books sat on a table.
Rabbi and Chabad House Director Yehoshua Chincholker was the first to speak onstage, welcoming and thanking both the crowd and the community for their outpouring of support.
“Hanukkah candles are lit in such a way they illuminate the entire surroundings,” Chincholker said. “Traditionally, they are lit by the door or window facing the outside so the candle not only lights the home but also lights the street.”
Read the rest of this story at the Indiana Daily Student.