By MA Rahman
Published: November 7th, 2018
Following the recent tragedy in Pittsburgh that left nearly a dozen Jewish congregants in a synagogue dead by an anti-Semitic gunman, Brooklyn College faculty have taken to reaffirm their commitment to take a stand against hate on campus.
Speaking before a sizable audience at the BC Hillel, several organizers, faculty members and concerned students of the BC community expressed their sympathy to the greater Jewish community over the tragedy offering words of conciliation.
Among the speakers was BC President Michelle Anderson who spoke passionately, expressing condolences for the tragic lost to the Jewish community, as well as offered solace on tackling another predicament: anti-Semitism on campus.
“We have to come to embrace the reality of who we are, the perspectives of others, different than ours perhaps radically different but equally worthy of our dignity, respect, human rights and equality,” Anderson said stressing importance of peaceful exchanges of thoughts and opinions to continue on and off campus.
Having taken place no more than five days since the tragic attack in Pittsburgh, many of the speakers spoke before the attendants with little preparation, still visibly shaken by the tragedy.
David Brodsky, BC Chairperson of Judaic Studies, spoke analyzing the tragic event contrasting it with the torment his grandfather faced at the hands of anti-Jewish oppressors in Russia, noting how his neighbors looked on, unwilling to intercede.
“The Jews of the Tree of life Synagogue in Pittsburgh would… never again neglect speaking out for neighbors no matter their race, religion, citizenship and they were killed because not despite living by that,” Brodsky said with a hint of pride in his voice.
As the solemn event went on, it became clear what most speakers agreed or hinted on: anti-Semitism on campus was a problem and someway curtailed either administratively or by student action.
MJ Romero, a freshman and member of Hillel concurred with this sentiment, stating her own concerns in the rise anti-Semitism nationwide, “It’s one of those things that I have to keep on the back of my mind… but it’s not like I think [to myself] everyone’s trying to kill you,” she said.
Others looked upon this event, with a less gloomy outlook, pleased by the turnout of students, faculty, and ordinary persons alike.
“It was inspirational to see our Brooklyn College community gather for an event of remembrance and unity in opposition to bigotry, prejudice and violence,” remarked Nadya Drukker, Executive Director at Tanger Hillel at Brooklyn College.
With vigil candles alit, colorful cards of solidarity filled and ready to be sent to those affected by the tragedy to renew some sense of hope for them, a prayer was sung in Hebrew marking the somber occasion at Hillel as the event concluded but thoughts and emotions could not.