The Conspiracy

Reaction to the UF Hillel Menorah Vandalization

As some may have read recently on the New Voices blog, UF Hillel’s menorah was uprooted from the ground and vandalized on site this past Saturday morning. The menorah that acted as a reminder to the Jewish student population that we stood as a strong community, lay broken and shattered in Hillel’s front courtyard.

Deeply saddened by this event, I finally processed how anti-Semitism doesn’t feel completely relevant until it happens close to home. I had posted an article about the incident on my Facebook wall. Of course, I received sympathetic messages such as “I’m so sorry to hear this” and “that’s horrible,” but some people who I spoke with reacted differently. With comments like “What is anti-Semitism?” “What is a menorah?” “What’s a Hillel?” it struck me as peculiar that some people were completely unaware, not only of the incident, but to Judaism as well.

Maybe it’s because I come from a smaller Jewish community or because I surround myself mainly with Jewish friends that others are not as in tune. Amazed by this, I felt even more disturbed of how uninformed some people remain about the religious intolerance in the 21st century.

I tried to think, what made these people so angry they felt the need to destroy a holy object? If they were only more informed about Judaism — more cultured in a sense — would they have still committed this crime? An emotional roller coaster of a weekend, I’m not only angry but also sad for the students who built up enough hatred to spawn such a wicked act of violence during one of the most festive holidays of the season.

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3 Older Responses to “Reaction to the UF Hillel Menorah Vandalization”

  1. R
    December 9, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

    Consequences to perps? Which university faith-based organizations rallied in support?

  2. David Olesker
    December 9, 2010 at 4:37 pm #

    “If they [the criminals] were only more informed about Judaism — more cultured in a sense — would they have still committed this crime?”

    Hard to say, there isn’t a single kind of antisemite that you can generalize about.
    In vary broad strokes I’d devide active antisemites into three classes:

    1) Many instances of antisemitism are simple acts of thuggery by brutes who know little and care less about Jews. If they weren’t overturning Chanukiah’s they might well be trashing Nativity scenes. Such people are not acting out of a deep hatred for Jews, they are just using Jews as a “target of opportunity” for their barbarism.

    2) Other expressions of antisemitism come from relatively normal people who have imbibed antisemitic myths. Such people are capable of change when presented with some simple facts about the real Jews. For such people (especially when they are citizens of a country that is generally tolerant) education can help.

    3) Sadly, there is a hard core of Jew haters who are ideologically committed to hating Jews. No amount of education is going to help them, they need to change their own basic world view first. Jews can’t do that for them, they need to do it for themselves.

    This latter group were once almost exclusively populated by the extreme right. On campuses in Western countries today they are overwhelmingly from the left and Muslim groups.

  3. Jill
    December 12, 2010 at 3:54 am #

    This sure doesn’t look or feel like anti Semitism. The menorah was in Hillel’s gated in yard, there was no graffiti or any other indication of intent or that it was in fact done by anyone. From the looks of it, the menorah wasn’t very sturdy to begin with and it was quite windy that night. I think the wind blew it over.

    Seriously, it is not like a sefer Torah, no need to go crazy every time a menorah touches the floor!

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