A religious symbol on the K-State campus was destroyed Friday night, and the destruction is believed to be an act of anti-Semitism, or hostility against Jews.
The Sukkah, a temporary hut used to observe a week-long Jewish festival known as Sukkut, was found bent, destroyed and wrapped around a car Friday night.
This year, Sukkut is observed from Oct. 4 to 11, but between 9:45 and 11 p.m. Friday, the Sukkah was moved and damaged, according to the K-State Collegian. The Sukkah was a collaboration between Hillel, a campus Jewish student organization, and K-State’s Housing and Dining Services.
Glen Buickerood, graduate student in counseling and a liaison between Housing and Dining and KSU Hillel, was one of the first to notice the destroyed Sukkah, as it was wrapped around his car about 40 yards away from the hut’s original site. It caused damage to his vehicle, and the metal poles of the Sukkah were bent.
“When I walked past the Sukkah to my car, I noticed something horrible,” Buickerood said in an email to K-State campus leaders, according to the Collegian. “The Sukkah was gone. The chairs and tables stood where the Sukkah had been. The stakes were still in the ground. Stakes that had been tied to the Sukkah had been pulled out.”
According to the Collegian, a storm hit the area around the same time Friday night, but Buickerood said he is doubtful the winds were strong enough to wrap the tent around his car.
Buickerood said in an email to university officials that he distributed posters and hung one on the sukkah telling students about the structure before the vandalism.
In a statement released Monday by K-State president Richard Myers, he said the Sukkah was “shamefully vandalized.”
“I want to emphasize how deeply concerned the K-State family is about this incident,” Myers said. “There is no place in our community for hateful, criminal reactions to religious expression. Many who live or work on our campuses, particularly those of the Jewish community, are experiencing significant pain and fear as a result of this act. Our hearts go out to those in the K-State family who have been negatively affected.”
In response to the damage, K-State is hosting a Sukkot Solidarity Dinner at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Bosco Student Plaza.
“We felt it was our responsibility to be allies to the Jewish community, and show our support to them,” Girdler told the Collegian. “We have worked closely with Hillel, a Jewish student organization on campus, to ensure that this is done in a respectful way.”
Hillel adviser Greg Newmark says what happened was “certainly anti-Semitic in effect.” Newmark says the “most generous” thing he can say is that the people involved “are remarkably insensitive.”
The sukkah was rebuilt Sunday morning.
Contributing: Associated Press