'Miracle' menorah on its way

'Miracle' menorah on its way

CHAMPAIGN — Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel calls it "the miracle of Hanukkah."

Less than two months after vandals for the fourth time in three years damaged the cherished menorah that stands outside the Chabad Center for Jewish Life on campus, a unique — and sturdy — replacement is on the way, with plans to unveil it a week from Tuesday.

"We're hoping we will have it lit for the first night of Hanukkah, December 12th," said Benjamin Bross, lead architect of the project.

The concrete will be poured Tuesday on a Jewish symbol that's quite unlike the ones that preceded it.

It will be taller (9 feet), heavier (steel reinforcements) and something Tiechtel hopes becomes as much a part of commencement photos and Illini game days as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

On one side of the structure will be the traditional menorah symbol. On the other: the Block I.

"This menorah was created with a vision. The vision is a message of light," Tiechtel said. "The menorah is carved into the sculpture and the space is going to be filled with different lights on different occasions, whether it's orange and blue for an Illinois basketball game or white or blue in honor of Israel or red, white and blue in honor of the United States."

Bross was sold on Tiechtel's idea from the start.

"It was the rabbi's vision that he wanted to make sure people understood it wasn't just about the Jewish life, it wasn't just about Illinois," he said. "It was about Jewish life at the University of Illinois, and how that Jewish life could be part of a larger community."

Tiechtel would rather not focus the attention on the vandalism cases, the most recent of which happened on Oct. 27, when two students broke off one of its branches — and were caught on surveillance video doing so.

Said the rabbi: "Life's about moving forward."

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rsp wrote on December 04, 2017 at 10:12 am

It looks very modern. I'm glad to see this happening this month. I just hope it's sturdy enough for the people that decide to climb on it. Just like they used to to Alma, and probably other scuptures around town. Keep that camera up.

Of course, if they damage this one the price will be higher.