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Hillel at Baruch holds Solidarity Vigil for Israel


Baruch College students gathered in the Clivner=Field Plaza to mourn the lives lost in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war during Hillel at Baruch’s solidarity vigil on Oct. 10. Baruch students delivered speeches expressing sorrow and shared their grief for all whose families have been affected by the ongoing conflict.

President S. David Wu’s opening remarks at the vigil reminded everyone that real lives are affected by the Israeli-Hamas war.

“It is crucial to remember that behind the headlines, and the politics, [that these] are real people: mothers, fathers, sons and daughters, whose lives have been forever changed,” Wu said. “Today, I want us to choose a different path. We choose to stand together in unity and with a belief that compassion, and the pursuit of peace are always tried over hatred and violence.”

Wu expressed solidarity with the Israeli citizens who lost their lives in the Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

“At times like this, it is important for us to strive for empathy and understanding, recognizing that all people deserve to see security for themselves and their loved ones as we get up here in solidarity, and that [we] also expressed our deepest condolences to the families and communities affected by [these] attacks,” he said

During the vigil, there were prayers for Israeli citizens on the frontlines of the conflict to ensure their safety.

“May he who bless our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless the members of the Israeli Defense Forces and its security services who stand guard over our land and the cities of our God from the Lebanese border to the Egyptian desert to the Mediterranean.”

The prayer continued, “May the holy one, blessed be he, protect and deliver them from all trouble, destroy affliction and illness, and send blessing and success to all the work of their hands.”

Hillel at Baruch faculty members spoke about how this vigil unified Jewish students at Baruch and showed their perseverance through unprecedented times.

“It’s amazing to see so many students here today, all coming together. You know, on a personal level, we’re all worried, some are more worried than others. I have two children right now in Israel.”

“All we can do in one way, in one sense, to be who we are, is to pray, pray for everyone’s safety, but there’s another thing you can do. I believe that what we see here, Jews from all backgrounds, from all religious backgrounds, from all cultural backgrounds. We may not necessarily agree on everything, but we have to really love each other like brothers and sisters.”

The Hillel at Baruch staff member continued, “So the way to fight this is for us to say, ‘You know what, I’m proud to be Jewish. They may have been trying to kill me for the last few 1000 years, but we’re going to come together. We’re going to persevere.’”

Samantha Cavaliere, a sophomore who intends to be a corporate communications major at Baruch, said that she has loved ones who are affected.

“My mental well-being has been on edge a little bit because I do have family and cousins and friends who are very close to me who have served and who are in areas that have been affected,” she said in an interview. “I’ve been very nervous and just in constant contact and worry about their well-being.”

Cavaliere also expressed that students who were a part of Hillel at Baruch also appreciated all the faculty members who came to the vigil to show their support. She said it helped her recognize that Baruch is a safe campus for the Jewish community.

“It made me feel that my community is heard and seen by other faculty members,” she said. “I know that all faculty members are in support of what’s happening. It did feel nice to have some faculty and staff joining us just for the memorial of the people who unfortunately are no longer with us.”

Cavaliere urged everyone staying updated on the conflict to remain well-informed and form their own opinions based on their acknowledgment and understanding of both sides of the conflict. Although she wants support for her family and friends, she said she wants everyone to come to their own conclusions and beliefs about the conflicts based on thorough research.

“What I think people should do is get themselves best informed and definitely read both sides of what’s happening,” she said. “I don’t think you should only feed into one just because you have friends [in that community]. Although I do want support from people, I don’t expect people to immediately be supporting my side. I do think that they should be well-informed and take an actual educated stance on what they believe in because it’s only right not to force people to side with my community.”

Cavaliere also said that it’s important to reach out to Jewish friends and ask if they need anything in this time of mourning.

She encouraged students to “ask the fellow Jews that they know ‘Are you okay?’, ‘Do you need any support?’, ‘I’m here for you.’”

Hillel President Ben Donin said that he’s been trying to find an escape from the constant news cycle surrounding the attack. He said in the aftermath social media has been especially difficult for him.

As the president, he said he feels the weight of his responsibility to listen to and support his community, but that it can be difficult to find time away. He said he is a point of contact for students who feel they have been a victim of antisemitism on campus.

“I’ve been trying to stay away from social media as much as possible just because there’s so much there,” he said. “It’s been tough to read about the news and get the updates. But unfortunately, it’s not like I have like an opportunity to not look because I have a lot of students send me things.”

He said he gets many messages, some of which he described as antisemitic, sent to him by Baruch students. He said he has a list ready to be sent to Baruch staff if issues continue or escalate.

Donin said he was relieved to hear Wu speak at the vigil despite facing interruptions from Pro-Palestine students and that he was glad to have support from administration in attendance.

He said his message to non-Jewish and concerned students was to encourage them to reach out to Hillel for a chance to educate themselves.

“To our non-Jewish students who are listening, feel free to stop by and always feel comfortable to come by and educate yourself and talk with us,” he said. “For any students who are pro-Palestine who want to debate or talk and speak, if you are interested in learning more of our side and speaking, I’m sure we can also have that as well.”

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Nicole Bryk is the News Editor for The Ticker.
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Jahlil Rush is a Production Assistant for The Ticker.
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