Hillel International’s #OwnYourStar campaign to support Jewish students against antisemitism launched last week on Tuesday, October 12 across all social media platforms. In less than a week, more than 1,000 Jewish college students, Jewish community members, and non-Jewish allies have shared pictures and videos highlighting their Jewish pride, and showing that antisemitism has no place to hide when our stars shine bright. Collectively, these images and videos have been seen by more than 500,000 people.
Here are 10 of the top posts featuring powerful images and stories from current college students displaying their love and celebration for being Jewish, while also proudly wearing their Jewish star, chai, and hamsa jewelry, from the first week of the campaign:
Hailey Behrman, @hailey.behrman
George Mason University
“I’m proud to be apart of the anti-antisemitism club, why?
I’m proud to own my star because I am the owner of MY identity. The role that Judaism plays in my life is something that I am not afraid to be proud of. My Judaism has taught me about love, about acceptance, about community and about perseverance.
Everyday, I wear three rings. Gam zeh ya’avor (this too shall pass) to remind me of perseverance. My Magen David (Star of David) to remind me of my history. Lastly, my Hamsa to remind me of the the close-knit community that protects and uplifts each other. Each one is a source of pride and allows me to wear my heart on my sleeve.
Today, @hillelintl has launched #ownyourstar to show the world that we are not afraid to show our pride. We do not cower and hide our Judaism when antisemitism is again rising. I encourage my Jewish friends and family to take part in this and to show your pride because being proud of your Judaism raises the strength in your voice.”
Chloe Levian, @thatpersianjew
University of California Los Angeles
“I am an anti-antisemite. I proudly own my star.
I proudly own my star because antisemitism should have no place on my campus. I proudly own my star because my parents couldn’t in Iran.
Eli Cohen-Gordon, @elicgordon
As a queer trans person, I’ve had a complex relationship with my Jewish identity over the years. I was raised in what I would call a “Reformative” environment – my family has belonged to the same Conservative shul for three generations, but because of where I was raised (an hour outside Boston – AKA small Jewish community), I attended the only Hebrew school near my house, and that was Reform. I never truly felt like I fit in anywhere – coming out as transgender at age thirteen only exacerbated the situation. I was always proud to tell people that I came from a Jewish family, but it would be a little longer before I began to truly admire and appreciate my Jewish identity for what it is. I attended a Shabbaton for queer Jewish youth in February of 2019, and it truly changed my world. For the first time, I met other people like me, and understood truly the tribe like community feeling that my family had always talked about. To have people to talk about life with and debate the questions that our ancestors quarreled in good faith over is one of the greatest pleasures of life. Finding a community that accepted me for all aspects of me – queer, trans, Jewish, loud, you name it – is one of the many reasons I love my Jewish identity.”
Sophia Corst, @sophiacorst
When I was 14 years old, my mother gifted me this #MagenDavid necklace. It quickly became my most prized possession, but it was one that I didn’t know what to do with. That all changed on October 27, 2018.
When I learned of the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh that took 11 Jewish lives, what I felt was more than loss. For the first time, I really believed that anyone could be a victim of antisemitism. It was no longer a concept in my history textbooks or an influencing factor of my family’s history in the USSR, and I was scared.
I started wearing my necklace because it made me feel protected, even though I didn’t have the same connection to my Jewish identity then that I do now. In Hebrew, the word “magen” (מָגֵן) means shield, and I found comfort in mine.
As the years went on, I grew to understand that the comfort I continue to find comes from standing together with my incredibly diverse community in the face of adversity. My Star, which I once wore out of fear, I now wear with pride.
It was just a few weekends ago that my great-grandfather asked me, “you don’t let anyone see you wearing it, right?” Well, I’m choosing to share it with all of you today, ESPECIALLY because he couldn’t.
How do you #OwnYourStar?! ✡️”
Jewish Pride Always
“JEWISH COMMUNITY: This is your sign to be PROUD!! ✡️ Embrace your star, #OwnYourStar and be PROUD of your star! Figure out what your star means to you – and don’t let anyone EVER take that Jewish pride away. Am Yisrael Chai!
Noah Goldstein, @noah_dallas
University of San Francisco
“I am so excited to be part of the launch of the @hillelintl #ownyourstar campaign! I am proud to be Jewish because my Judaism and my Jewish community have been instrumental in shaping me into the person I am today. Growing up in the Jewish community I learned the importance of Tikkun Olam and Tzedakah, values which fostered a passion for social justice and equity in me from a very early age. For me, Judaism is more than a religion, it is a system of values that informs how I walk through the world. My Jewish experience has shown me that when you care for your community your community will care for you. Growing up queer there were not a lot of spaces that were truly safe for me, but Jewish spaces always offered me a haven where I could be my whole self. I am proud to stand on the shoulders of my Jewish ancestors in the pursuit of justice. Today I want to share with you one way that I own my star. One of the ways I like to display my pride in my Jewish identity is by wearing my Chai necklace. While the necklace itself is small, carrying my identity with me everywhere I go has a big impact. Making my pride in my identity visible empowers me to stand strong in my Jewish values and own my star. So, how do you #ownyourstar? Tag us on social media @hillelintl and use the hashtag #ownyourstar to share your story!”
Jade Gordon, @jadecgordon1
Stephen F. Austin University
“I am proud to be Jewish. You may or may not know that antisemitism is rising rapidly in the United States and on college campuses. Despite this rise, I still am proud to be Jewish and I’m proud to show it. It’s is important that the Jewish community rises up against hate and grows stronger together. #ownyourstar“
Nat Waldman, @preznat
University of Oregon
Samantha Brody, @samantha.brody
“I own my star every morning when I put on my Hadaya necklace.
I own my star when I wear my Hillel swag on campus.
I own my star when I talk about my Judaic Studies major or sing Hebrew music on the way to class.
I own my star when I show up with excitement in Jewish spaces.
I own my star because I am proud to be a part of the Jewish community and part of a proud history of resilience in the face of hardship.
The Magen David, or the “Jewish Star”, has been a symbol of the Jewish people for thousands of years. Today, and every day, let’s embrace this symbol of our pride and show the world that antisemitism has no place in this world. #OwnYourStar @hillelintl“
Nicole Nashen, @nikkinash_
“Growing up, I learned about the history and traditions of the Jewish people, but it wasn’t until university that I found myself being the only Jew in my classes and social circles, and when I started to experience Antisemitism for the first time. Since starting at Concordia, I’ve had to stand up against Antisemitic professors and classmates, and I spent a year representing Jewish students on my student union. Despite the polarizing and draining nature of being “the Jew” in these settings, I’ve never once felt alone. Through Hillel, I’ve found a community on campus with which I celebrate my Jewish pride unapologetically.
For thousands of years, our ancestors have been persecuted, expelled, mass murdered, and dispersed throughout the world. Incredibly, no matter the circumstances, we’ve always preserved our traditions and proud Jewish identities.
So, when I walk the school halls with my Hebrew Concordia sweater and my Magen David around my neck, I carry the pride and legacy of thousands of years of Am Yisrael that came before me. That’s why I own my star!#ownyourstar @hillelintl @hillelmtl“
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Have you or someone you know experienced antisemitism on campus? Don’t wait – report it immediately. Visit www.reportcampushate.org to share what you saw with trained personnel who can best support you.