Though a recent wave of anti-Semitic activity has shaken the Jewish community in Bloomington, local leaders feel the acts of violence will strengthen the community and even bring non-Jews into the struggle against hatred and intolerance.
CANDLES Holocaust Museum Executive Director Kiel Majewski says after the original museum was firebombed in 2003, Terre Haute citizens rallied to support CANDLES — something he is seeing in Bloomington as well.
“It can be turned into a much more meaningful, positive situation,” Majewski says. “I think Bloomington and the various constituents and communities are responding very well.”
Bloomington United is working with IU Hillel to promote tolerance and condemn anti-Semitism, in part by offering a downloadable poster of a menorah on its website for residents to post in their windows.
Meanwhile, Jewish fraternities and sororities have hired extra security, and the IU and Bloomington police departments are increasing their patrols. Majewski says while protection is important, the community should take a more pro-active approach toward combating anti-Semitism, and work to educate people about Judaism and other cultures and religions.
“We certainly want to keep people safe and secure,” he says, “but we’d be treating the symptoms without effecting the cause if that is all we did. We need to double down too on education efforts and opportunities for cross cultural exposure.”
The Chabad House on 7th Street in Bloomington will host a Hanukah candle lighting ceremony on Sunday which is open to all.