In California, the Jewish holiday of Sukkkot has been marred twice this year.
The first incident occurred at San Jose State University when someone burned the outdoor shelter - known as a sukkah - that marks the Feast of the Tabernacles. Now there is no way to know who did this or exactly why. There were no notes or writings and no one has been apprehended.
That was not the case with the second incident which occurred at the Davis Campus of the University of California. There anti-Israel statements including "End Israeli Occupation" and "Free Palestine" were spray-painted on the inside of the sukkah.
As Rabbi Shmary Brownstein, co-director of the Chabad House, said in an interview with the California Aggie newspaper a Sukkah is a religous "requirement" It is not political.
A sukkah is a structure consisting of a roof made of organic material which has been disconnected from the ground. During the holiday of Sukkot religious Jews eat their meals and sometimes sleep in the sukkah.
Mike Amerikaner, program director of Hillel, said that the vandalism is unrelated to the holiday, though it made reference to Israel. "This is a religious structure that has nothing to do with Israel," he said.
The following editorial appeared in the California Davis student newspaper - The Aggie. It's a little smaltzy for the OD, but whatever.
Editorial: Dialogue, not vandalism, is needed
By: Caitlin Kelly-Sneed
Student Programs and Activities Center representatives reported a hate crime on Oct. 4 after finding that a booth on the Quad had been vandalized with graffiti. The booth, or "Sukkah," was set up as part of the Jewish holiday Shalosh Regalim.
The message on the Sukkah was political, reading "FREE PALESTINE" and "END ISRAEL OCCUPATION," which in itself is not wrong. But for the message to be branded on a Sukkah with a black marker shows no respect for the sacredness of religious tradition and expression.
Hate crimes on this campus are an embarrassment and disgrace to the UC Davis community. This is an institution principled on higher learning and healthy debate. As such, when a person has political frustrations, he or she should express those frustrations at a venue where one's ideas are heard and other cultures are respected.
If the party responsible for the graffiti believed that the best way to be heard was through vandalism, then we in the campus community have a greater problem.
Every person should feel that there is an accessible venue to productively voice their opinions and beliefs, and nobody should feel that damaging somebody else's property is the best outlet for self-expression. More than that, this gesture impinges on somebody else's right to celebrate their religion and share their culture with others.
Now is the time for us to evaluate ourselves. Are we promoting healthy dialogue so that people feel comfortable sharing their beliefs - whatever they may be - in a positive manner?