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Praying for Peace: Hillels respond to violence in Israel

by Hillel News |Oct 16, 2015|Comments


In light of the current events in Israel, Hillels around the country — individually and in partnership with other campus organizations — are coming together to pray, rally, reflect, discuss and heal. Here are just a few examples of the meaningful work taking place within the Hillel movement:

Hillel rallies for Israel

At the University of Michigan, more than 300 students joined together as a community on the Diag to express their concern for the situation in Israel. Students read eulogies for the victims of terrorism, recited prayers for healing for those injured in recent weeks, read poems for peace, and sang HaTikvah, Israel’s national anthem. 


Michigan student Kevin Wolf. Photos by Tilly Shames.

Columbia/Barnard Hillel held a vigil on Oct. 15 in remembrance of the civilians who have died or been injured during the recent surge of violence in Israel. Aryeh: Columbia Students Association for Israel student leader and CU senior Rebecca Glanzer explained: “We hope to pay tribute to the Jewish and Arab victims of terror and come together as a community to pray for peace and tranquility.”

Students from each religious denomination led prayers and collected money for charities that provide for victims and their families. The event was organized by Aryeh along with the Hillel Executive Board, JStreet CU, The Israel Fellowship, Kesher (Reform), Koach (Conservative), and Yavneh (Orthodox), with the goal of coming together as one community.

During GW Hillel’s vigil on Oct. 14 with 50 student attendees, a student whose family moved to Israel and canceled their visit for George Washington University’s Parents Weekend due to the violence shared his feelings and thoughts with everyone. It was “something that really hit home,” said Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow Lior Diklshpan. “The whole time students held candles and stood very close to one another.”

At Rutgers Hillel, students came together in a quickly organized program to recite psalms, prayers, and songs in support of Israel, according to an article published in the New Jersey Jewish News.  

At the University of Florida, UF Hillel joined Chabad UF, UF Lubavitch Chabad Student Group, Zionist Gators, Gators for Israel, and the UF Jewish Student Union at a rally in support of Israel on Oct. 15th


UF Hillel. Photo by Ricki Friedman.

Community conversations

Northwestern Hillel will host “Unlikely Partners for Peace” on Oct. 21, featuring Israeli Hanan Schlesinger and Palestinian Ali Abu Awwad, two leaders of the Roots project who will share their work. Last Friday, about 75 members of the Northwestern University community gathered for an event called “Northwestern Stands with Israel.”

Meanwhile, Hopkins Hillel has created postcards like this one to share on campus, inviting students to join in dialogue and discussion. Hopkins Hillel will also host a reflection and discussion session Monday evening, Oct. 19 in its building.


In honor of National Coexistence day on Oct. 14, USC Hillel launched a campaign encouraging students to express why they choose peace and share photos through social media. Also, on Oct. 20, USC Hillel Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow Dganit Abramoff will organize a student discussion. “We will allow people to share their feelings, ask questions and relay to them information about the situation in Israel,” Abramoff said “I hope that this event will be a success and will allow the students to feel comfortable to express their feelings.”

Students at George Mason University gathered last week to ask a local rabbi, Rabbi Bruce Aft of Congregation Adat Reyim, questions about Judaism and Jewish peoplehood. In the light of recent events in Israel, one student asked, “What does Judaism say about the right to self-defense?"

How has your campus Hillel created programming and space for discussion and reflection during this time? Share your Hillel’s best practices and resources with us at communications@hillel.org.

See the photo album on our Facebook page, and read more:

Coverage of Michigan Hillel's vigil, in the Michigan Daily.

Harvard Hillel stands in solidarity with Israel, in the Harvard Crimson.

BU Hillel holds vigil for Israel, in the Daily Free Press.

UConn Hillel and Huskies for Israel hold vigil, in the Daily Campus.

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  • Columbia University
  • University of Florida
  • University of Michigan
  • praying for peace
  • University of Southern California
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Northwestern University
  • George Mason University
  • Rutgers University
  • Israel
  • George Washington University
  • 2015
  • Barnard College

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