As the snow melts away and the trees state to blossom, Jewish students nationwide are defining themselves through action. They’re doing Jewish things -- great Jewish things. You can read more about these inspiring stories below by clicking here. Here’s a run-down of the biggest stories in Jewish student life.
Standing for Israel, One Campus at a Time
Pro-Palestinian activists marked “Israel Apartheid Week” this month and pro-Israel activists fought right back with campaigns of their own. According to JTA, groups across the political spectrum have voiced their opposition to the use of the word “apartheid,” as well as the general tone and message of the activists.
The largest campaign is “Israel Peace Week,” which is taking place on at least 28 campuses nationwide. In Canada, this has taken shape in the form of the “Size Doesn’t Matter” campaign, which attempts to spread knowledge of Israel’s numerous accomplishments in spite of its size. Still, the direct approach to apartheid week is going on nationwide. At the University of Rochester, students are working to celebrate the freedom and democracy enjoyed by the citizens of Israel.
In a related story, 11 students at the University of California, Irvine were arrested on February 8 for heckling Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren while he was delivering a speech. Check out insightful analysis and discussion of the incident on JTA here, at Inside HigherEd here, and by Alan Dershowitz for the Jerusalem Post here. Hillel President Wayne Firestone penned a piece for the Jewish Week on the clash between campus protests and the idea of free speech.
Cancun? No, Gracias. Tikkun Olam
One recent development among Jewish students has been the flood of Jewish alternative breaks and service projects. Hillels across the country offer myriad Jewish-oriented service projects. Hillel has partnered with City Year to organize week-long projects for students from across the country. Students have already worked in Los Angeles and Miami. They are in New York the week of March 15. You can also find first-hand student writing from alternative breaks in New Orleans and the Jewish Farm School.
Jewish students at the University of Wisconsin – Madison are combating an advertisement placed by Holocaust denier Bradley Smith in the Badger Herald student newspaper. Read more about the controversy on Hillel’s website.
Hillel Launches Student Coalition Against Nuclear Iran
Hillel, in cooperation with the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), has launched the Student Coalition Against Nuclear Iran (SCANI), a student-run network that will oppose Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and raise the profile of the Iranian threat on their campuses.
Students Stand Up to Hatred
As Westboro Baptist Church spreads its message of hate across the country, Jewish students are fighting back. Students from Hillel of Richmond organized an anti-hate rally on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University, just a month as hundreds of students of all backgrounds drowned out Westboro Baptist Church’s message of hatred in front of the Taube Hillel House at Stanford University.
Jewish Life Is in the “House”
Moishe House, which offers programming to 20-something year-old Jews, has been around for a few years now, but they’ve apparently reached the big time — making the front page of the New York Times website on February 10. Be sure to check out this very interesting profile.
Israel, For Real
In New Voices, MASA participant Hailey Dilman provides an interesting perspective on visiting Israel for the first time. Read it—and see how it stacks up against your own!
Snowmaggedon: School’s Out, Judaism’s in!
Campuses across the East Coast were shut down early February due to record-breaking levels of snow, but Jewish life naturally kept on going. Read about it at Hillel’s website.
The Great Battle of our Time: Latke vs. Hamentash!
Since 1946, the University of Chicago Hillel has held a debate each year over which Jewish holiday food is better: the latke or hamentash. The past five years of debates are now up online. Read more about it at the Hillel website.
David Meyer is a first-year student at the University of Maryland.