By Howard Packowitz
NORMAL – In the darkest of times, there is light. At Illinois State University’s quad Tuesday night, about 40 people braved the cold, freezing rain, and snow to light a giant menorah for the third night of Hanukkah.
ISU’s Chabad provided traditional potato latkes, jelly-filled donuts, chocolate-covered Hanukkah gelt, chicken soup, and much smaller menorahs for students to light in their dorms or apartments for the rest of the eight day holiday.
ISU Police Chief Aaron Woodruff said he was honored to help light the Grand Menorah at a time when Jews face anti-Semitism around the world.
“If every community was as open as Bloomington-Normal and ISU, I think this would be a better world,” Chief Woodruff said.
Rabbi Chaim Telsner said the menorah’s light offers hope amid the darkness from the holocaust and more recently the massacre of Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue in late October.
“Just five weeks ago, we stood at this very same place, and then we stood inside, remembering 11 people who were murdered by acts of darkness. We said then and we say now that we’re not going to fight darkness with darkness, rather with a little bit of light, we’re going to banish the darkness,” Telsner said.
Each person, said Telsner, experiences “little patches of darkness” that also can be banished by the menorah’s light.
Howard Packowitz can be reached at howard.packowitz