“I started to hear about Hillel my junior year of high school through BBYO. And since coming to Michigan State I’ve lived, breathed, and done everything Hillel. As a freshman, I was always in the building studying, going to Shabbat dinners, and doing fellowships. My sophomore year, I began taking more of an active leadership role, leading me to become a part of Michigan State’s Jewish Student Union executive board my junior year.
“Junior year I witnessed a rise of antisemitic incidents on campus. The first couple of incidents were isolated. They didn’t involve me, I was just me seeing them on social media. Things took a turn for the worse when we tried to propose the IRHA definition of antisemitism to our student government to take a proactive approach on fighting BDS. I felt there was this double standard where ASMSU, our student government, wouldn’t fight for the Jewish students, but would fight for other marginalized communities.
“I ended up retracting the bill and presenting a speech where I addressed my frustration with this double standard. Afterwards, I was attacked for an hour and a half both on Zoom and in private messages and group chats.
“When this happened, Hillel International naturally got involved. And, sadly that’s kind of how I made a name for myself in the Hillel International world. I was known as the person who was fighting antisemitism on Michigan State’s campus.
“This led me to apply to the International Student Cabinet the end of my junior year and fortunately be accepted. All of us on the cabinet have made an equal commitment to fight antisemitism. So, between the 22 of us and our advisor, we are here to help anyone.
“This week I joined Hillel president and CEO Adam Lehman as well as other professionals from the Hillel movement to speak on a panel at the ADL’s Never is Now conference about confronting antisemitism on campus. The biggest thing I want people to take away from my experience that it’s real and that it can happen to anyone. Antisemitism isn’t isolated to a specific school, a specific region, or a specific area in the United States. It can happen to anyone regardless of how protected you feel on campus. I want people to hear our stories and recognize what’s happening.
“I always tell people when they’re going through a BDS fight, or a wave of antisemitic incidents on campus, that they just have to see it through. You have to utilize your resources and don’t give up the fight. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true.
“I’ve talked to so many people who were and still are actively fighting BDS, and they feel like they’re losing. But I always remind them that it’s an uphill battle and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can make significant progress for the future because of the experiences you’ve faced.” — Jordan Robinson, Michigan State University ’22, member of the Hillel International Student Cabinet
As told to Jordan Greene, writer for the Hillel International Writers Program.