Hopkins Hillel and the Jewish Students Association collaborated to organize “Stand with Israel and the Jewish Community” on Oct. 10. The event was held in response to the series of conflicts between Israel and Islamist militant group Hamas that have occurred in the past week.
Hamas launched a multi-front surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7 during the seven-day-long Jewish festival of Sukkot. Following the attack, Israel declared war on Hamas and threatened a complete siege of Gaza.
Since the initial attack, the death toll has climbed as the conflict escalated. There have been over 1,000 civilian deaths in Israel, including at least 14 Americans. Hamas also claimed to hold more than 100 captives. Israeli retaliatory airstrikes have killed at least 900 people in Gaza and displaced more than 100,000 people in the Gaza Strip.
Students, faculty and staff gathered on the Freshman Quad to express solidarity and support for Israel. The group stood together in a semi-circle in front of the Blue Jay Statue, which was painted with the words “pray for peace” in both Hebrew and Arabic.
In an email to The News-Letter, Casey Brody, president of Hopkins Hillel, explained the complexity of the conflict. She recommended students obtain information from a variety of sources to get a full picture of the situation instead of sharing infographics on Instagram without checking their factual information.
“It is important to realize that the situation in Israel is not black and white,” she wrote. “It is a highly nuanced conflict with many points of view and decades of trauma for both sides.”
To express their support, members at the event wore blue and white clothing, prayer shawls and scarves, and some wore the Israeli flag over their shoulders.
Speaking on the purpose of the event, Brody emphasized that it is meant to serve as a source of strength and unity for students in grief.
“This event was to create a space for the Jewish community and other Hopkins students to come together to pray and sing for peace and the safety of people in Israel,” she wrote. “Since the attacks in Israel over the weekend, many students have been feeling numb, lonely and unsure of how to express themselves.”
Dianne Strauss, a senior who attended the event, reflected on her experience in an email to The News-Letter.
“Being present at the memorial today was an important show of solidarity against indiscriminate hate and violence by Hamas,” she wrote.
The event began by reading three prayers: one for the state of Israel, one for those taken captive by Hamas and one for the safety of the Israeli soldiers. The group then sang three songs to convey coming together in hard times, including Psalm 20 and the Acheinu, which calls for peace and salvation for Jewish people in danger. Brody expressed that singing is a meaningful way for Jewish people to express themselves and their emotions.
Drawing from personal experiences and observations, Strauss commented on her journey with grief.
“Overall, I think there is an undue burden on the Jewish students and faculty who have been affected to defend their grief,” she wrote.
Brody emphasized the importance of the event in bringing together the entire Hopkins community.
“This event allowed for students to realize they are not alone on campus,” she wrote. “There is a community beyond just our fellow Jewish students that supports them and are mourning this terrible attack along with us.”
Brody encouraged people to reach out to their Jewish friends and check in to see how they are doing.
“While most of us are physically okay, our minds are halfway across the world feeling this trauma with the people of Israel,” she said.