After our Hillel was vandalized on Yom HaShoah, our staff supported us.
“I was hundreds of miles away from campus, completing the semester online because of the coronavirus, when I received a flood of messages about an act of vandalism on Yom HaShoah. The front of UMass Amherst Hillel — my own Hillel — had been spray painted with the word ‘Palestine’ in Arabic. Now, there’s nothing antisemitic about the word ‘Palestine’ or a longing for peace in the Middle East. What is very hurtful, however, is that someone would intentionally deface a meaningful place for Jewish students, on Yom HaShoah nonetheless. I felt targeted and vulnerable. Hillel had become an integral part of my identity as a Jewish college student. With the pandemic, we couldn’t physically come together to comfort one another, making this moment especially difficult. Yet, our Hillel staff was still able to support us. They sent messages to see how we were doing, organized video calls to address questions, concerns and provide comfort, and they even covered the graffiti with a quote from Anne Frank. Just knowing I had a caring, supportive community made me feel safer and stronger.” — Samantha Jaffe, University of Massachusetts at Amherst