At a time when Jews around the world are gathering with their family, friends, and communities to celebrate the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we are outraged to hear and see that a number of antisemitic incidents took place on or around campus on Rosh Hashanah, one of the most sacred Jewish holidays.
Over the past week, we have heard from our Jewish student peers throughout the country about these incidents, as well as their fears that their campus may be next. As co-chairs of the Hillel International Student Cabinet, we want to say, unequivocally, we hear you and we see you, and we want to help you.
Celebrating the Jewish New Year and observing Yom Kippur should bring joy, reflection, and community without the feeling of anxiety or fear. Jewish students should not have to worry about being targeted while celebrating such important Jewish holidays.
The global spike in hate speech toward Jews, as well as the proliferation of antisemitic symbols and vandalism threatens the lives and wellbeing of Jewish students on a daily basis. And the hatred marring campuses around the country threatens the values of higher education and the health of the universities themselves. We will not stand by and allow Jewish students to be targets of discrimination.
To be clear, some college and university presidents, chancellors, and administrations have taken strong and immediate action to support Jewish students when antisemitic incidents have occurred, and we applaud them for taking concrete action to safeguard their campuses. But others have not.
We urge college and university administrators to take immediate action to hold those accountable for these heinous acts and to reestablish the feeling of safety for Jewish students on campus. We respectfully remind our campus leadership that they have moral, legal, and ethical responsibilities to reestablish the feeling of safety for Jewish students on campus. As we prepare to celebrate Yom Kippur, the holiest of Jewish holidays, we ask that ALL college and university administrators:
Condemn antisemitism swiftly and unequivocally whenever it appears, show your support, and provide resources for Jewish students who are impacted by it.
Work with your local campus Hillel to learn more about antisemitism and how your university can best support Jewish students, and how you can provide your campus community with critical education about the nature of contemporary antisemitism.
Establish and develop relationships with Jewish student leaders to work together on fighting antisemitism and ensure that Jewish voices are heard and Jewish needs are addressed by including them on advisory boards to campus administration. The lived experience of Jewish students at your own colleges and universities are a powerful tool that deserves to be heard and honored.
Include antisemitism as part of your institution’s broader commitment to the advancing of the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) on campus.
Strongly consider joining Hillel International’s Campus Climate Initiative to help your administration and staff receive training to ensure a safe campus free of antisemitism, harassment, or marginalization of Jewish students.
To all students who have been affected by these acts during the Jewish holidays, we extend our most sincere support. Know that we are working every day so that Jewish communities on campus are safer, and to ensure that Jewish students have a welcoming and inclusive place to call home on campus.
We urge Hillel to be your first stop when you need support and, if you see or hear about an antisemitic incident on campus, to report it to your campus Hillel as well as to reportcampushate.org, a website run jointly by Hillel International, the ADL, and the Secure Community Network that is staffed 24/7 to ensure a timely and immediate response when an antisemitic incident on campus is reported.
We wish you all a joyful and healthy holiday season as we look towards better, safer days ahead for our community.
All Our Best,
Jordan Robinson & Jessica Yeroshalmi
Hillel International Student Cabinet Co-Chairs
About the Hillel International Student Cabinet: The Campus Climate Initiative is a group of 18 diverse Jewish student leaders from colleges and universities around the world. The Cabinet generates ideas for how Hillel can better serve Jewish students at colleges and universities worldwide, and then works with the Hillel International team to make them happen. Members of the Student Cabinet sit on Hillel International’s board of directors, as well as on Hillel International committees and task forces.