Bloomington United's Message to Community on Recent Anti-Semitic Vandalism

A message from Bloomington United regarding recent acts of anti-Semitic vandalism in the Indiana University and Bloomington community.

Jewish communities around the world began the eight day celebration of Hanukkah on Wednesday night, December 1. Hanukkah menorahs (nine branched candelabra) are lit each night in remembrance of the victory of the Maccabees. At that time, King Antiochus IV Epiphanes (ca. 215-164 BCE) became the ruler of the Seleucid Empire in 175 BCE, and 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 in Jerusalem and animals prohibited to Jews were sacrificed on them. The Maccabees (a family of freedom fighters) 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. Hanukkah is a celebration of the rededication of the Temple and the victory over oppression and anti-Semitism.

It is ironic that as Jewish communities worldwide begin their Hanukkah celebrations, anti-Semitic acts have shaken the Bloomington community. Last week a rock was thrown through a window at the Chabad House. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, a rock was thrown through a window at the Helene G. Simon Hillel Center. On Monday, sacred Hebrew books were thrown into the toilets on several different floors of the IU Wells Library. On 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.

These acts of hatred and anti-Semitism are frightening and meant to intimidate. Fortunately, though, these acts do NOT represent the feelings of Indiana University, the Bloomington community and Monroe County. They are the cowardly and misguided actions of one or a few individuals. In contrast to the times of the Maccabees, the Indiana University and Bloomington community have stood strongly in support of the Jewish community through an outpouring of concern in the form of letters, emails, offers of help, visits by community members, phone calls and more. This type of behavior will NOT be tolerated on the IU campus or in Bloomington. The IU Police Department has been working tirelessly with the FBI and Bloomington police to apprehend the perpetrator(s) of these heinous hate crimes. The IU Provost, Karen Hanson, issued a statement 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."

We, as Bloomington United (a grassroots campus and community partnership dedicated to promoting diversity and responding to incidents of hatred) are united in our commitment to diversity and a just life for all people. These acts have provided us with the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to diversity and to fighting all forms of hatred. We ask EVERYONE to join with us in standing firmly for diversity and in solidarity with the Jewish community and all peoples.

There will be 2 PDFs available for download at iuhillel.org, the first states "Bloomington United in Diversity" and the other is a menorah. Please download these signs and place them in your windows, in the windows of businesses and offices and all over the University, city and county.

On Monday, December 6 everyone is asked to wear blue to show your solidarity with the Jewish community.

By standing with one another, we affirm the humanity of each person and the beauty of all faith traditions. As the Jewish community lights the candles of this year's Hanukkah menorah may we envision that light brightening the path that will lead us out of the darkness of hatred and ignorance.

Bloomington United:

Beverly Calender-Anderson, Douglas Bauder, Melanie Castillo-Cullather, Stan Drongowski, O.P., Paul D. Eisenberg, Jeffrey Isaac, the Reverend Linda C. Johnson, Robert Keller, O.P., Barbara E. McKinney, Anne McLaughlin, Rabbi Sue Laikin Silberberg, Charlotte Zietlow