Religious and community leaders are troubled after vandalism at a Jewish Student Center on the campus of Indiana University. The theft - called a hate crime by some people - has prompted a city-wide response to promote religious tolerance.
This week is Chanukah, the festival of lights.
"Like in so many traditions, this is the time that we're kindling lights in the midst of darkness," said Rabbi Mira Wasserman, Bloomington United.
But darkness dampened this year's celebration in Bloomington.The sacred holiday representing religious freedom was tarnished by vandals.
In October, someone threw a bottle through the window of Chabad House, IU's Jewish Student Center. Then a few weeks ago, police say someone defaced the center, stripping away the word 'Jewish' from the building.
Religious leaders call it a hate crime and an act of anti-Semitism.
"The fact that it was the word 'Jewish' suggests to us that this was a pointed attack on the Jewish community as a whole," said Rabbi Wasserman.
"It's very disturbing to us. It's very disturbing to our students," said Rabbi Yehoshua Chincholker, Chabad House director. "to specifically target the letters 'Jewish', it speaks for itself."
Bloomington police say its isn't a hate crime according to the report. Even if it was a hate crime, it wouldn't matter. Indiana is one of only five states in the nation without a hate crimes law. Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis), who sponsored a bill last year, plans to reintroduce it again during this upcoming legislative session. Last year's legislation was defeated after the religious right launched a bigoted assault on the bill because it included language defining a bias crime to include crimes committed because of a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. Religious right bigots claimed it amounted to the recognition of special rights for "homosexuals and cross-dressers." Porter's legislation will have the backing of Indiana State University where a recent campus-related hate crime occurred. ISU officials pledged to fight for the law after the incident this fall.