After two harrowing days of lockdowns, Wesleyan University reopened late Thursday night following the surrender to police of a man suspected of murdering College of Letters junior Johanna Justin-Jinich.

Jewish communities throughout Connecticut – which had been placed on alert after investigators discovered anti-Semitic threats in a journal belonging to suspect Stephen Morgan – quickly followed suit.

“Now is the time for us to come together as a community,” said Rabbi Yosef Wolvovsky, who directs the Chabad-Lubavitch center in nearby Glastonbury and coordinates programs for Wesleyan’s Jewish students and faculty. “We must add in acts of love and compassion.”

In response to the shooting of Justin-Jinich, a Colorado resident whose grandmother is a Holocaust survivor, Wolvovsky called on members of Wesleyan’s academic community to perform good deeds in her memory in a project dubbed “Operation Kindness.” He also urged Jewish students especially to light Shabbat candles Friday night, and dispatched Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis and volunteers to the Middletown campus to distribute candle-lighting kits.

“Friday night is the beginning of the Jewish Shabbat,” said Wolvovksy. “It is a most appropriate time to light a candle of hope.”

In addition, the rabbi and his wife, Yehudis Wolvovsky, announced on Thursday that their Chabad Jewish Center would be open to any student needing a place to pray, relax or collect their thoughts.

While Wolvovsky did not know Justin-Jinich personally, he has been in contact with several of her friends since the attack. He spent most of the day following the murder checking in with students who were told by university officials to stay in their dormitories.

“Those who knew her describe Johanna as a loving, loyal friend, a giving person, and one who lived life with passion and joy,” said Wolvovsky. “We can honor her memory by living those values.”

Manhunt Ends

Coming right after the end of classes for the year, Justin-Jinich’s murder turned Wesleyan into a ghost town, forcing the cancellation of the annual Spring Fling festivities and prompting the university’s administration to send all non-essential personnel home. A nationwide manhunt for Morgan, who is suspected of walking up to Justin-Jinich in a campus bookstore and shooting her several times, saw the 29-year-old’s picture plastered on newspapers and television programs, but police found him standing peacefully outside a convenience store 10 minutes from campus.

According to The Associated Press, citing police reports, Morgan had asked the clerk in the south Meriden store to call police. He was due to appear in court in Middletown Friday morning for his arraignment.

News reports revealed that Justin-Jinich had filed a harassment complaint against the man in 2007, while they were both enrolled in a summer program at New York University.

While law enforcement agencies searched for Morgan, all 14 Chabad Houses in Connecticut beefed up their security measures, as did other synagogues and Jewish community centers.

“We’ve gone over a checklist of items,” said Rabbi Yosef Deren, the head Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Connecticut who also directs Chabad-Lubavitch of Fairfield County. “All of the items on the list were already in place, because security is something we live with on a regular basis.”

Following Morgan’s apprehension, people in Middletown seemed to breathe a collective sigh of relief. University officials planned a memorial ceremony for Justin-Jinich to take place at 1 p.m.

“The Wesleyan community is grateful for the work of the law enforcement agencies involved in this process,” said university president Michael S. Roth. “We are all breathing a little easier with this news.

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Johanna and hope that this latest development brings them some measure of comfort,” he added.

“The Chabad Jewish Center extends its deepest sympathies and condolences to [Johanna’s] family,” echoed Wolvovsky. “The entire Wesleyan community is truly saddened.”