A week after the menorah on Northeastern’s Krentzman Quad was van­dal­ized, mem­bers of the uni­ver­sity com­mu­nity gath­ered in that spot Thursday after­noon to cel­e­brate the strong ties that unite them beyond bound­aries like faith or ethnicity.

We gather together at a crit­ical moment in our life together,” said Alexander Lev­ering Kern, exec­u­tive director of the Center for Spir­i­tu­ality, Dia­logue and Ser­vice. “We come to con­demn thought­less acts of van­dalism to our campus menorah, which have caused great harm not only to our cher­ished Jewish com­mu­nity mem­bers, but to all people of goodwill.”

What affects one of us,” Kern added, “affects us all.”

With can­dles in hand, more than 100 North­eastern stu­dents, fac­ulty and staff hud­dled together before the restored menorah — which will be lit at 5 p.m. Sat­urday evening for the first night of Hanukkah — for reflec­tion, prayer and dialogue.

This uni­ver­sity is our uni­verse, and it is our col­lec­tive response in the wake of such hurtful acts that will define us and shape our expe­ri­ence of the world,” said Nathaniel Rickles, the board pres­i­dent for North­eastern Hillel and an asso­ciate pro­fessor of phar­macy prac­tice. “Thank you for standing in sup­port of diver­sity at North­eastern and demon­strating your sol­i­darity with all of those who repu­diate this act.”

  • Students, faculty and staff filled the pathway in front of the menorah and holiday trees.

  • President Joseph E. Aoun offers closing remarks at Thursday's vigil.

  • Candles are shared as a sign of support.

  • Alexander Levering Kern, executive director of the Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service, addresses those gathered on Krentzman Quad.

  • Vigil attendees greeted each other and asked, "What brings you here today? What core, shared values of our community must we uphold at this time?"

  • Nathaniel Rickles, President of the Hillel Board at Northeastern, speaks at the vigil.

  • Students, faculty and staff ended the vigil with the song, "Peace, Salaam, Shalom."

Stu­dents from faiths across the uni­ver­sity par­tic­i­pated in the vigil, with leaders of stu­dent groups with a reli­gious focus uniting for an inter­faith prayer. Aziz Al-​​Refai, a senior civil engi­neering major and pres­i­dent of the Islamic Society of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, said the event pro­vided an oppor­tu­nity for a diverse group of stu­dents to sup­port and learn from one another.

The idea of tol­er­ance, peace and plu­rality between reli­gious groups is impor­tant,” Al-​​Refai said after the vigil. “It is an oppor­tu­nity for us to better know one another and stand at each other’s sides.”

Speaking at the close of the cer­e­mony, Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun con­demned the act of vio­lence but praised the North­eastern community’s response. He encour­aged those in atten­dance to take the lessons from the vigil with them as they left, con­tin­uing to build a uni­ver­sity made stronger by its diver­sity and dialogue.

People of all faiths said what hap­pened here is unac­cept­able,” Aoun said, “and we are here to not just hear it or say it, but also to live it. It is time for us to pro­claim our unity and say we will not accept any­thing that is done against anyone in our community.”

A uni­ver­sity like North­eastern, Aoun said, must be a model for what society can be, not merely a reflec­tion of the com­mu­nity that sur­rounds it.

Let’s not forget this moment, and let’s con­tinue to work to be a model for society,” Aoun said. “We can be — and we will be — a model of what society can become.”