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The menorah in front of the Tannenbaum Chabad House-Northwestern Jewish Center, 2014 Orrington Ave., was damaged some time between 7:30 and 10:15 p.m. on Saturday night. Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, the center’s director, said the Evanston Police Department has “classified this incident as vandalism to property and as a hate crime.” The investigation is ongoing. Below are excerpts from the letter sent by Rabbi Klein:
“The vandalism was directed at the large Chanukah menorah, which has proudly stood in front of our building as Chabad House’s religious symbol for many years. …The past few days have been filled with many conflicting emotions for me personally. When I was notified by Homeland Security on Friday afternoon that two packages containing explosives en route to Chicagoland Jewish institutions were intercepted by government officials, I quickly reached out to the Evanston Police Department and requested that all area synagogues receive extra police patrols. Thank G-d no related incidents took place in Evanston.
“Shabbat at Chabad was a wonderful and peaceful emotional high, with loads of students and community members coming through our doors. At the conclusion of Shabbat Saturday evening, I went to the Hotel Orrington to support the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, who was hosting a philanthropy that raised over $1,100 for Keshet, an organization that works with children and young adults with disabilities. I then went to support the Jewish Theatre Ensemble, who produced an outstanding and thought-provoking performance of Equus. I ended the evening at a housewarming party for Rebitzen Yehudis Hecht, who leads our Shabbat Cooking Classes at Chabad. Shabbat and Saturday evening were truly filled with the joy and inspiration that defines the very best of our Northwestern student and Evanston communities.
“To my surprise, I received a phone call from the Evanston Police Department early this morning with the news of the vandalism at our Chabad Center. After a truly wonderful weekend filled with what makes me most proud about our community, I felt saddened, ashamed, hurt, and most of all, violated. After living as part of the Evanston and Northwestern University communities for twenty-five years, it is very disturbing that someone or some group of people could break and attempt to destroy one of our religious symbols. I ask myself whether this was just a prank or an opportunity to make an anti-Semitic statement. Whichever the true intent, it portrays the lack of sensitivity and tolerance coupled with hatred, anger, and rage that some individuals still possess and how much more education remains necessary.
“I share this incident with the community so that we can use it as a springboard to learn about the importance and power of respecting each other’s differences as well as an opportunity to learn how to foster a society which can work together, care for each other, and love one another.
“If you would like to discuss this incident or what we can do to make a more understanding community, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my cell phone 847.644.5190.
“May G-d continue to bless our community and each one of us.”
Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein
Director, Tannenbaum Chabad House-Northwestern Jewish Center