(For complete coverage of Rutgers Hillel's response to the Clementi suicide, visit the New Jersey Jewish News
A statement by Rutgers Hillel on the death of Tyler Clementi.
Rutgers Hillel joins the entire Rutgers community in mourning the death of first-year student Tyler Clementi. Many students in the Hillel community knew Tyler or have been affected by this loss.
This past week, Jews around the world completed the reading of the Torah on Simchat Torah and we began again with the book of Genesis. In the first chapter of the Torah we read that G-d created all human beings "b'tzelem Elokim," "in G-d's image." It is one of the tragedies of our world, which we as Jews have a mission to repair, that we often fail to recognize the "b'tzelem Elokim" in each other.
That is what happened at Rutgers in the tragic death of Tyler Clementi.
Committed to living what we learn, Jewish students at Hillel this semester founded a group known JAQs (Jewish Allies and Queers). The group meets every other Monday night, including tonight, in the Hillel building. In this way, Hillel offers a safe space to students who may be struggling, as Tyler was, with issues around sexuality, confidentiality, and a sense of community. It is our hope that because of Hillel, a Jewish student would never feel as isolated and hopeless as Tyler must have felt.
Hillel is also involved with Project Civility, a new university-wide initiative. The project is a two-year 'conversation' about the meaning of respect and how we treat each other. Among the founding student leaders is a former Rutgers Hillel Peer Engagement Intern. Hillel's annual Days Without Hate program will be a featured part of Project Civility this November.
Rutgers Hillel affirms the dignity of every human being, that we are all made in the image of G-d, regardless of sexual orientation, whether Jewish or non-Jewish. We work and pray for the day when the entire world recognizes this, and we no longer have to attend a candlelight vigil for another human being.