Buildings and objects related to the Jewish community have been attacked in the last week at Indiana University in Bloomington (JTA Article).
IU Hillel Executive Director Rabbi Sue Laikin Silberberg wrote the following letter to the community outlining Hillel's response.
Dear Students, Parents and Alumni:
I write to you as we begin our Hanukkah celebrations at Hillel. Tonight we light our first candle as we remember the victory of the Macabees. King Antiochus IV Epiphanes (ca. 215-164 BCE) became the ruler of the Seleucid Empire in 175 BCE. Traditional Jewish religious practices were banned. In 167 BCE Jewish sacrifice was forbidden, sabbaths and feasts were banned and circumcision was outlawed. Altars to Greek gods were set up in the Holy Temple and animals prohibited to Jews were sacrificed on them. The Maccabees rose up and fought for religious freedom for the Jewish people. They triumphed over Antiochus and were able to win the right to practice Judaism. They cleansed and purified the Temple. During Hanukkah we celebrate the rededication of the Temple and the victory over oppression and anti-Semitism.
It is ironic that as we begin our Hanukkah celebrations, anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head in Bloomington. Last week a rock was thrown through a window at the Chabad House. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, a rock was thrown through a window here at Hillel. On Monday, sacred Hebrew books were thrown into the toilets on several different floors of the main IU Wells Library. Yesterday (Tuesday) another rock was thrown through a window at the Chabad House and the glass case listing the Jewish Studies faculty was smashed in Goodbody Hall.
While these acts are frightening and meant to intimidate, we can take great comfort in the fact that unlike the times of the Maccabees, the Indiana University and Bloomington community stand strongly in support of the Jewish community. There has been an outpouring of concern about these acts and support for the Jewish community. This type of behavior will NOT be tolerated on the IU campus or in Bloomington. The IU Police and Bloomington Police are working tirelessly to capture the perpetrator of these acts. He will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I have been in constant contact with the IU Police Department, and they have stepped up patrols and are doing all that they can do to support us, ensure our safety, and to apprehend this criminal. The IU Provost, Karen Hanson, has issued a statement (which can be found at â€¦) that includes the words, "The anti-Semitic significance of these targeted and malicious acts is beyond any serious doubt and cannot be minimized. There is no place for anti-Semitism at Indiana University or anywhere else." In addition, Bloomington United (a grassroots campus and community partnership dedicated to promoting diversity and responding to incidents of hatred) is organizing a powerful response to these horrible incidents. To show his support, the IU Dean of Students will be joining us at our Shabbat and Hanukkah celebration on Friday night.
As the Rabbi and Director of Hillel and as the parent of two current IU students, I feel safe at Indiana University. I believe that the University is doing everything possible to ensure our safety and the safety of the Jewish community. I am grateful for the outpouring of support, kindness and caring that we have received. The Jewish community is thriving at Indiana University Hillel as we celebrate Jewish life on the campus through candle lightings, programming, and Hanukkah celebrations. May the light of the Hanukkah menorah brighten the path that will lead us out of the darkness of this hatred.
Rabbi Sue Laikin Silberberg