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PSU hosted annual menorah lighting despite recent acts of hatred

Penn State University’s Chabad hosted its annual menorah lighting outside Old Main. (WJAC)

UNIVERSITY PARK – Penn State University’s Chabad hosted its annual menorah lighting outside Old Main Wednesday.

The event is a part of an eight-day celebration for Hanukkah. In light of recent events in Pittsburgh and at Penn State, dozens of people came together to celebrate the festival of lights.

"Each night we add one more candle, so adding one more act of goodness and kindness," PSU Chabad Director Rabbi Nosson Meretsky said.

Lighting the darkness. That's the theme of Hanukkah, a thought Penn State is trying to follow.

"Hanukkah itself has always been a universal message,” Meretsky said. “And I think if we get that message out to more people the better."

Penn State hosted its 18th annual lighting for the Jewish community, but also for students and residents of any other religion.

"Tonight, was all about the whole community coming together whether Jewish or not, showing support for us and the holiday," Zeta Beta Tau President Adam Schwartz said.

The celebration comes just one month after the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, and a few days after Zeta Beta Tau's menorah vandalism. The State College community gathered in the exact same spot to mourn the lives lost in the synagogue shooting. Many had direct ties to Tree of Life.

The university condemned an act of vandalism at a fraternity house. Officials say a menorah was vandalized at the Zeta Beta Tau fraternity house, a Jewish fraternity, on Thursday. According to police, the menorah was stolen again Saturday night and later returned.

"It's a crucial time to refocus, inspire ourselves, to gather as a community,” Meretsky said. “Then we have a world full of light and nobody would be doing these acts of hatred. "

The Centre County community has been rallying behind them through it all.

"It makes me super happy that we have a community behind us that really does support us. And again, it means the world," Schwartz said.

"We've had tons of support. Everyone's great,” PSU student Stefanie Kaplan

said. “It’s just a great community."

University President Eric Barron was there. He also had some words for the crowd.

"Reflect on the importance of religious freedom to you personally and to others, regardless of faith," Barron said.

The Jewish community continues to light the darkness... With more events throughout the holiday.

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