Stolen menorah lights up student fundraising drive

Jewish students at the University of Ottawa have rallied to build a new menorah after one was stolen from the university grounds on the weekend.

A three-metre menorah set up last week outside the UniCentre went missing on Saturday just days before the Jewish holiday of Hannukah, which is today. The menorah was later found in front of the Father & Sons restaurant on Osgoode Street, near the university campus.

The metal and wire religious structure was too badly damaged and could not be returned.

“It’s all smashed up, it was part of a student prank,” said Rabbi Chaim Boyarsky, the university’s rabbi.

Two unidentified individuals were captured on security cameras carting away the religious symbol.

Boyarsky said a fundraising campaign launched after the theft has so far raised about $800 donated by students.

It’s the third year the menorah has been erected on campus.

“We never had any problems before,” said Boyarsky. “We respect everyone’s culture and we really want our culture to be respected as well.”

He said the eight-branched candelabra is normally shipped from Brooklyn, New York and Jewish students at the university volunteer to assemble it. But there was no time to get a new one from the U.S. prior to the Jewish holiday, he said.

“The students are building a new one, it will be two feet bigger than the other menorah,” said Boyarsky, adding the students purchased the building materials.

“The irony of this is that students came out in big numbers to help and some of them were not even involved before.”

He said the menorah will be up in the same spot in time for today’s holiday.