|Storrs, April 1, 2021
This week is Passover, the Jewish holiday celebrating our redemption from slavery in ancient Egypt. We would rather focus on the joy of the Holiday, but the events on campus need a response.
Over the first days of the Holiday of Passover, hateful graffiti was found on various campus buildings.
After the Seder at Chabad, a Jewish student was accosted while carrying a box of Matzah in his hands.
The UConn administration quickly put out a statement condemning these acts of bigotry.
Such displays of hate are not a reflection of our University culture. The UConn community is one of love, support, and mutual respect for one another.
Many students have asked, what should our response to such hateful acts be?
The answer lies in the Seder.
The Seder is not merely a reenactment of a redemption long ago, but rather a living ceremony that speaks of our ability to overcome any obstacle of darkness.
Acts of bigotry can never be ignored. When condemnable words go unanswered, it emboldens evil and leads to negative actions.
Our response however cannot just be vocal.
While these actions do not reflect the UConn campus community, actions such as these darken our campus somewhat and call for a renewed expression of light since this happened here. As such, we are asking everyone to do an extra good deed to bring more light to our community.
My personal mentor and the foremost leader of Judaism in the modern era, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson often taught that in a place of darkness a small amount of light has a great effect. Each of us can do an extra good deed to help someone in need or go out of our way for someone else, and in that way, bring increased light to our community.
When we are faced with opposition and antisemitism, we cannot back down. It is a time to add in Jewish pride and live more Jewishly. Show your Jewish pride and protect your home by adding a Mezuzah to your door, put on Tefilin, light Shabbat candles and do an extra Mitzvah.
Chabad will continue working with the UConn administration to address issues affecting the Jewish community. We will also continue our celebration of Passover and the celebration of freedom.
Any students who feel troubled or intimidated by these hateful actions, please reach out to us. We’re always here for you and we want to listen and help.
While we cannot ignore acts of darkness, we know darkness flees from forces of light and love. Let us add in light and love today and every day.
Rabbi Shlomo & Shaindel Hecht
Chabad at UConn