With the suffocating darkness of a court-ordered destruction of their home hanging over their heads, Rabbi Mendy and Sheiny Rivkin moved full speed ahead to bring the light of Chanukah to hundreds of students at Towson University.
“It’s like living in a twilight zone,” said Sheiny Rivkin, co-director of Chabad of Towson in Maryland which has been giving a shocking notice that their building must be taken down because of how it was built.
“The phone rings and we’re discussing with the attorneys how and when our Chabad House might be destroyed, and the next call is with a student arranging a Chabad Menorah lighting on campus,” she said.
Every night of Chanukah, tens of students join the Rivkins in their ‘home away from home’ to light the menorah, enjoy hot latkes and donuts and play dreidel.
On the first night of Chanukah, as they were playing dreidel, one of the students remarked: “Look at the light coming from this home. It’s unthinkable that this might shortly be destroyed. Maybe like the Chanukah story, the flame will miraculously continue to burn.””
Other planned activities include special Chanukah classes, public Menorah lightings on campus and in town, and a Chanukah themed Shabbat dinner with over 75 students expected to attend.
“The Jewish people are like a Menorah,” said Rabbi Rivkin, “with different branches all coming out of a single stem. The outpouring of support from tens of thousands of Jews from so many different segments of the community, reminds us that there is nothing like Klal Yisroel. We continue to hope and pray for a Chanukah miracle.”
The Rivkin said they are working with the renowned attorney Nat Lewin and are exploring a couple of avenues on how to proceed regarding the pending filing of a Federal Religious Discrimination Lawsuit (RILUPA).
“Destroying the newly built expansion of the Towson-Goucher Chabad House would be a wasteful result of the insensitive and hostile bureaucratic administration of Baltimore County’s land laws,” Lewin said in a statement.
He added, “If the Maryland courts do not correct this injustice, we will have to resort to a federal remedy to keep the Chabad House open and enable it to provide a Jewish home for those studying away from their families and to teach them Jewish observances and community values.”
You can learn more and support the efforts to save Chabad of Towson, here