Fighting Antisemitism

For many Jewish students, BU Hillel is the only place on campus where they feel safe, supported, and able to express their Jewish identity. For every one of the 6,000 BU Jewish students, this year has been incredibly shattering in so many ways. From the devastating attacks in Israel on October 7, to the virulent antisemitism across campus, to the concerns about physical and emotional safety, and beyond. The following are our five main priorities in fighting antisemitism:

  1. Protecting the physical safety of our students and staff.
  2. Taking care of the psychological and emotional well-being of students, especially students who experience anti-Jewish hatred, harassment, and ostracism.
  3. Standing up for Israel, especially its right to defend itself against terrorism and to safely bring back hostages.
  4. Urging BU to show support for Jewish students, faculty, and staff by fighting antisemitism on campus.
  5. Documenting and reporting antisemitic incidences

Key initiatives:

  1. Tracking Hate on Campus: We are tracking all antisemitic activity to share with the administration and Hillel International.  Students can now report incidences confidentially, from social media intimidation to in-person discrimination. We are requesting emails, pictures, and videos of what they experience. BU Hillel Antisemitism Incident Reporting Form
  2. Educating the larger campus community: We are dialing up our efforts to get more students to take our Jewish and Israel learning classes.  We just launched new cohorts of an Israel-Palestinian conflict class along with a Fighting and Identifying Hate and antisemitism class. When we meet with students who are upset, we coach them to write to BU administrators and to channel their emotions into action – we have already hosted a number of events that students are passionate about like Magen Dovid Adom fundraisers, collecting supplies to send to Israel, and more in the planning stages.
  3. Advocating for Israel: We continue raising awareness of the current situation to give our Jewish students the learning and education they need to defend themselves and to find allies who can support our Jewish students.  We’ve hosted speakers like the Israel Consul General of New England, Dara Horn, Rabbi David Wolpe, and more.
  4. Supporting Each Jewish Soul: We are meeting with more Jewish students than ever to hear how they are doing. We have brought and will continue to bring groups of students together to talk, grieve, and emote. Our entire staff including our Rabbis are meeting with students and focusing on pastoral care.
  5. Training Student Leaders: We are doubling down the educational and advocacy agendas during our weekend retreats, and our Israel trips as soon as we can make them happen (aiming for May 2024). For overnight trips, we are bringing together Israeli leaders, and those who want to invest in deep Jewish learning. For our longer trips to Israel with Israel Uncovered and Birthright, the pathways will be through touring and group sessions.
  6. Targeting the Faculty and Administration: We are dialing up our efforts with BU Administration and Faculty on antisemitism and Israel. This year we hosted a series of 3-part sessions for 25+ college Deans and other key BU administrative staff. These sessions are about antisemitism and taught by experts from ADL and others. We are also in constant touch with the BU President, Provost, Dean of Students, and Police Department.

Attendance at BU Hillel is up 50%. Our team is the leading voice on campus to stand up against Jewish hate, stand up for Israel, and stand with Jewish students. Here’s are some highlights of our work to combat antisemitism:

  • Multiple 5 and 10 session Jewish learning classes on Israel, Zionism, and Fighting Antisemitism
  • Israel Solidarity Vigil
  • Israel Solidarity Shabbat with BU Deans
  • Columnist and Middle East Policy Expert Eric Mandel, Educational Speaker
  • StandWithUs Senior Educator Charlotte Korchak, Educational Speaker
  • Nova Music Festival Massacre Survivor Speaker
  • IDF Soldier Speaker Felipe Zaitz
  • Magen David Adom Fundraisers
  • Israeli Hostage Awareness on Marsh Plaza
  • Sharaka Co-Existence Dialogues
  • Mishelanu Israel Students Retreat and Shabbat

This year, we want to ensure Jewish students feel seen, heard, and valued at BU. One of the main ways we’re accomplishing this is by having key campus leaders come to BU Hillel and stand with Jewish students. This includes:

  • 25+ BU Deans and Administrators gathered by BU Hillel and ADL for a 3-part class on what is a Jew, what is Israel, what is antisemitism, and how do you combat Jew hate
  • BU Faculty: In January, 10 Jewish faculty members hosted Friday night Shabbat tables at Hillel, complete with services, dinner, and schmoozing. Faculty came from many of BU’s 17 schools and colleges across various academic disciplines.
  • BU Provost: The following Friday, BU Provost Kenneth Lutchen joined students for Shabbat dinner and an open discussion.
  • BU President, BU Deans, BU Police, BU Administrators: In the coming weeks, we’ll be welcoming the BU President, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), the BU Police Department, and BU’s Director of Athletics to engage with students at Hillel on Shabbat.

Here’s a brief recap of our engagement with BU Jewish students at the end of the fall semester:

  • 17,800+ the number of times we welcomed Jewish students to BU Hillel programming.
  • 1,770 – the number of times we met one-on-one with Jewish students.

Here’s a recap of some of the hateful antisemitic happenings from this year on campus:

    • Die-In at the GSU Student Union.
    • Multiple marches across campus shouting phrases like “long live the intifada” and “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free”.
    • Promoting physical violence on social media.
    • Screenings of the antisemitic movie, Israelism.
    • Professors comparing what is happening in the middle east now to what happened in the Holocaust
    • Singling out Jewish students for the actions of the Israeli army and Israeli government in classes, dorms, and on social media
    • Large banners hung from College of Arts and Sciences and School of Theology buildings adjacent to Marsh Plaza promoting antisemitic phrases such as “long live the intifada” and “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free”.
    • Editorials in BU Today singling out Hillel, Jews, and Israel as colonizers and oppressors.
    • Graffiti written on BU Hillel building, “Free Palestine” now being investigated as a hate crime by Suffolk County District Attorney.

Photos from Hillel International Israel Leaders Summit February 2024 in Atlanta

Photos from Speaker Events this Year: Israel Soldier, Nova Music Festival Massacre Survivor

Photos from on Campus Vigils, Rallies, Fundraisers, Hostage Awareness, and Advocacy Events

Photos from BU students at Israel rally in DC on 11/14