Shabbat Message from Hillel

Click to register for Hillel’s Sunday, May 19, 2024

“Live from Campus” brunch and panel discussion: How Safe are our Jewish Students?

Daniel Bennett will interview diverse Jewish students and DU’s Chancellor Jeremy Haefner & Provost Mary Clark.


Shalom Hillel friends and supporters –


With Colorado’s public universities on summer break next week, anti-Israel tent encampments have reached the University of Denver (commencement at DU is June 15th) where our Merage & Allon Hillel Center also serves as our statewide headquarters.  Outside DU’s library, some Jewish students draped Israeli flags over their shoulders as they dialogued quietly with protesters, others are angry, and still other Jewish students feel unsafe or are frightened.  Students have a right to protest, but they do not have the right to intimidate or threaten Jewish students.  Meanwhile, DU Hillel’s most important priority will always be to keep Jewish students safe, providing a secure home-away-from-home at our Hillel House and on the DU campus for our 400+ DU Jewish students, their friends, and allies.


DU Hillel campus director Lily Gross is on the site of the encampment for a second day to advise and comfort.  Tonight, DU Hillel and Chabad host a joint Shabbat dinner on campus to show solidarity: Lily is cooking as I write while taking breaks to send your words of support and encouragement to her students.  Add your words of support here.  Assistant Hillel statewide director Shira Teed, and I have spent time at the encampment, which as of this afternoon has grown to about twenty-five tents.  While these encampments around the country and in Colorado are deeply concerning and problematic, I can report that demonstrators have been respectful and peaceful so far.  Please read below for more information.


These are confusing, troubling times, but also defining times for our young adults as they grow into the Jewish leaders they soon will be.  Hillel is with them.


As a high school student I remember joining Cleveland-area college campus protests against the Viet Nam War and rallying in Lafayette Park in Washington DC to demand the US government support Israel against Arab aggression in 1967.  Free speech and peaceful protest are bedrocks of our democracy, and even with the blatant lies explicit in the wording of protesters’ demands at DU (including DU divest from all companies responsible “for the illegal occupation, apartheid, and genocide of Palestinians”), they have the right to congregate peacefully.  I know from my months of conversations with Chancellor Jeremy Haefner – with whom I spoke several times yesterday and texted with this morning, as well – that our goals align: keep Jewish students safe; check escalation by non-students; assure camping, while permitted at DU, stays peaceful.  Still, we will all feel better when the tents come down and our students can return to being, well, just students.


Hillel and our partners – including our newest partner, the Brandeis Institute – have worked diligently with DU officials for months.  Our suggestions are incorporated into the latest of university policy.  I am assured that campus security and university administrators are working closely with DPD and have clear contingencies in place should things turn – and that the very strong message (read language from the one-page leaflet* handed to protesters by Provost Mary Clark and others) will be enforced.


These are unprecedented times for most of us.  Whether it’s meeting 1-1 with students who are angry or frightened, training student leaders to help peers stand up to antisemitism, telling truth to power, hosting intimate programs for ten or seders for 200, Hillel is here on the front lines promoting a strong, proud Jewish future for us all.  We invite your voice to be heard.  Please join our amazing staff and courageous DU Hillel student leaders for brunch and panel discussion on Sunday, May 19, 2024.  The next edition of “Live from Campus: How Safe are our Jewish Students?” will feature my interviewing diverse Jewish students, DU Chancellor Jeremy Haefner and Provost Mary Clark.  Questions from the floor will be welcome. Please click to register for this special event Hillel has organized for our Jewish community members, Hillel supporters, and those who feel compelled to be involved at this watershed moment for the Jewish People.


Shabbat Shalom,



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