Dickinson community celebrates first night of Hanukkah, denounces antisemitic vandalism on campus

Carlisle/West Shore

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) — Sunday night, Nov. 28, marked the start of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, but the holiday is getting off to a sour start in Carlisle.

Police are looking into an act of antisemitism at Dickinson College.

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Somebody placed stickers on the sign for the Asbell Center for Jewish Life with the likeness of Hitler’s image on it. Jewish leaders say it’s a problem, no matter how small the vandalism was.

Stickers on the front and back of the sign have been removed, but remnants of one in front of the Weiss Center for the Arts remain.

Rabbi Marley Weiner described it as “two little young smiley face stickers, but with a little mustache, a little swoopy, so clearly indicating a cartoon iced version of Hitler’s face.”

The college isn’t sure who posted the stickers or if they’re members of the Dickinson community, but the school is investigating it as a hate crime.

“We as a community, we have to take it seriously every single time. Because we don’t know whether it’s just somebody trying to shock or whether it’s truly a sign that something that is dangerous to the physical safety of our students is coming,” Weiner said.

The vandalism came just days before Hanukkah began.

“The history is an experience that the Jewish people had in their own land of being discriminated against and violently attacked for their religious beliefs, and then banding together to rededicate their temple which had been desecrated by the Greeks to reestablish their worship to recommit to celebrating and really affirming their own culture and religion in their own home,” Weiner said.

Saturday night, Jews and non-Jews banded together to light the menorah, celebrating what’s supposed to be a joyous holiday.

“Carlisle and Dickinson is a relatively safe place to be Jewish and to express Judaism, but it’s still disheartening when things like this happen,” said Sam Halpern, a Jewish student leader at Dickinson.

It’s a sad reminder that antisemitism is on the rise across the country, but Jewish leaders say the vandals are in the minority.

“This really is a tolerant community and I think that’s why we haven’t had many issues with antisemitism because we have loving neighbors and partners who come to support us and I’m really grateful that they came out tonight,” said Jenn Ross, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg.

In a letter to the community on Tuesday, Dickinson College leaders said “We do not tolerate hate and we do not tolerate discriminatory acts. Every member of the Dickinson community must work to create a culture that is respectful and inclusive.

If you have any information on this incident, please report it to the Department of Public Safety at 717-245-1349. We regret that this incident occurred, and we are working diligently to find the individuals responsible.”

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