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Dartmouth University Menorah Vandalized


As Jews across the country light their menorahs to celebrate the final night of Hanukkah, Hanover Police are investigating the vandalism of the large menorah installed on the Dartmouth Green. Late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, an unidentified perpetrator or group of perpetrators shot holes through seven of the nine lights in what campus groups and the College condemned as an antisemitic act of violence.

“It’s certainly a violating feeling when something like this happens,” Chabad Rabbi Moshe Leib Gray said. “It shakes you, because you think, ‘It will never happen to me,’ or, ‘It will never happen here.’”

Hanover Police lieutenant Scott Rathburn confirmed that the lights on the large menorah were damaged by what appeared to be a BB or pellet gun. The incident, reported by Gray, is believed to have occurred between about 6 p.m. on Tuesday and 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

“This appalling act of antisemitism, perpetrated during Hanukkah in the heart of our campus, is an affront to all. We condemn this bigotry and hatred,” College President Phil Hanlon wrote in a Thursday afternoon email to campus. “Such acts leave members of our community feeling unsafe and afraid. They come from a place of ignorance and cowardice.”

Hanlon wrote that the College will be repairing the menorah “as soon as possible,” while the lighting of the eighth candle took place as scheduled on Thursday at 6 p.m. Around 100 people joined the Zoom livestream of the lighting, and around 20 others stood on the Green and observed as Gray stood on a ladder to sing prayers and light the menorah’s last candle.

Gray said that he discovered the vandalism when he went to light the seventh bulb on Wednesday, the seventh evening of Hanukkah. Upon his arrival, six bulbs and the central light were not lit, which he assumed was due to electrical problems — until he found that the bulbs had been shattered. 

“They all had the same thing,” Gray said. “Somebody literally stood there at the base of the menorah and shot, with some kind of an air gun or BB gun.”

He noted that the “severe angle” of the entry and exit holes in the bulbs indicated that the bulbs were shot from almost directly below, which would have posed a public safety threat, he said, because there is no way of knowing where the projectiles would land. 

Hanlon wrote that the College’s security staff is working with Hanover Police on the investigation. Rathburn said that although Hanover Police are checking with Dartmouth Safety and Security, they do not believe there is any video footage of the area. He added that the department welcomes any information about who may have been responsible for the incident. 

Chabad vice president Benjamin Cape ’22 said that for many in the Jewish community, this incident pops what they saw as a “bubble” of safety. He said that a lot of Jews at Dartmouth “take for granted that these acts of antisemitism don’t happen” on campus.

“The ability for students to celebrate and have a public display of their faith on the Hanover Green is important,” Gray said, adding that it gives the Jewish community on campus a “sense of pride.”