The Colgate University Jewish Union (CJU) and fellow students held a vigil on Wednesday, October 11, following Hamas attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip on Saturday, October 7. from Colgate Memorial Chapel in a moment of remembrance and heard reflections from CJU leaders and other students.
Senior Jackson Fox, in partnership with CJU, led the effort to put on the event. Fox also spoke at the vigil.
“It’s important to come together tonight to be there for people who are hurting, here and thousands of miles away,” Fox said. “Even though there may be a great physical distance between us and Israel, the people remain close in our hearts tonight. »
Fox spoke about the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and acknowledged the insecurity of the region, explaining why Colgate students chose to gather there that evening.
“We are here tonight for those who cannot be. It is a privilege to be Jewish in America. Our ancestors moved here in search of a better life, fleeing religious persecution. After 2,000 years of diaspora, the Jewish people have only had a home for 75 years,” Fox said. “When we contextualize this, we realize that Israel is still trying to find its place as a home for Jews around the world. As we gather here this evening, we recognize the fragility of the region and its critical importance to our people. The attack on Israel is an attack on anyone who believes in this philosophy. This is why we came together this evening, to support those who are suffering.
Senior Grace Lieberman had the initial idea to host the event and reached out to Fox. Together, they contacted the CJU which agreed to help them accommodate him. Lieberman also spoke at the event.
“As you all know, what is happening in Israel is disheartening and appalling, and I want to share my love and support for the Jewish people during this time of tragedy and terrorism,” Lieberman said. “Today we pray for peace and security in Israel and send our love and condolences to the people of Israel and Gaza who live in violence and fear. I also want to express my support and gratitude to the Israeli soldiers who risk their lives for the Jewish people. I know many of my peers here at Colgate have friends and family members who argue.
Lieberman asked his peers to put politics aside as they gathered in remembrance.
“I hope that today everyone can put aside their political views and separate the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from the terrorism taking place in this region to stand in solidarity with those who are being persecuted and killed on the base of their religion,” Lieberman said. said. “I pray for peace and security in Israel. Thank you all for being here to show your support and solidarity for my community.
Sophomore Matthew Sherter, CJU co-president, added his remarks.
“Last Saturday morning, on Shabbat Simchat Torah, Hamas, a terrorist group, launched an attack against Israel and the Jewish people. These holidays are meant to be days celebrated and cherished and, instead, Jews in Israel and around the world are mourning and fearing what is yet to come,” Sherter said. “We gather this evening to mourn the loss of life due to these attacks. In unison, we hope and pray for a new day when all people, in Israel and elsewhere, can live in peace and security. May we wish that day comes quickly and soon.
Colgate University President Brian W. Casey also attended the event.
“I thought it was really necessary,” Casey said. “When you experience moments like this – a tragedy of this magnitude – that directly affects people, the idea that you come together seems completely human.”
Casey applauded the students and acknowledged the difficulty of leading such an event.
“It was very clear to me that this was students talking to students, and that’s really hard to do, and I thought they did it incredibly well.”
Casey was touched by the vigil and left with a sense of pride for the students involved.
“I thought they were really great (…). I must say that I left very sad but incredibly proud of the students.
Alisha Greenstein, co-president and CJU sophomore, encouraged students to utilize the support systems offered by the campus community.
“I mean there is support on this campus. Please contact someone if you are in distress. There are so many resources at Colgate,” Greenstein said. “Let’s support each other as Jews, supporters of the Jewish people, and most importantly, as Colgate students. Let’s pray this ends soon.
Students struggling with recent events, as Greenstein mentioned, can find support at the Colgate Counseling Center.