LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The sign in front of the University of Kentucky Jewish Center was rededicated Monday after it was vandalized earlier this month.
Rabbi Shlomo Litvin, of the Chabad of the Bluegrass, said the sign means even more now than it did before.
"In previous years, the sign was just what you pass on your way into the building," he said. "But in the last eight months, we haven't had a program in the building. On my phone, I have probably 1000 texts saying, 'Hey, Rabbi, I'm outside by the sign.' Just 'I'm outside, I'm waiting. I'm waiting to celebrate my Judaism at UK.'"
Litvin called the vandalism "an apparent hate crime," adding that this is not the first time UK's Jewish community has had similar experiences.
"It's enlightening to see that no matter how many times this happens, the answer is the same both from the students, the resilience from the Jewish students to say 'we will be light we will continue we will build' and from the community who stand by us time and time again," he said.
Gov. Andy Beshear reached out to show his support on Monday via tweet:
Every Kentuckian deserves to feel safe and uplifted at their house of worship and anywhere they practice their faith. Destroying the sign at Chabad of the Bluegrass was an unacceptable act of intolerance, and made it harder for this community to serve members in need.— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) November 24, 2020
UK Jewish Student Center Secretary Levi Wolff said it was a shock to hear of the vandalism, but was encouraged by the outpouring of support from the Lexington and UK community.
"I've been super grateful,of all the student groups and organizations who have come out in support, either reaching out to us directly or publicly showing signs of support, and it means a lot to us," he said. "And I encourage everyone to continue doing so and speaking out against hatred where they see it, and all forms."
Wolff added that he believes that opening up a dialogue with members of the community could keep something like this from happening again.
"Sit down and talk," he said. "I mean, I myself, everyone on the student board, every single one of my Jewish friends on campus and in this community. I feel like that's what all of us want is just to have a conversation and just to talk to these people who don't quite understand."