News from Solidarity Sharing Circle at Hillel House

5 min read

Olivia Silvey 25

Executive News Editor

On Monday, Oct. 3rd, Trinity’s Hillel organization held a Solidarity Sharing Circle at Zachs Hillel House. This event came in the wake of an antisemitic hate crime on campus announced by administration a week earlier. The sharing circle was open to all members of the Trinity community and included the singing of traditional Jewish songs, an introduction and a Torah reading by Rabbi Rachel, a history of anti-Semitism by Professor Samuel Kassow, opening statements from Hillel board members, and an open discussion about the hate crime from students. 

The meeting was held upstairs, with students and faculty in attendance from multiple organizations on campus. Every seat in the room was filled, with people spilling out into the hallway. The large turnout was a pleasant surprise for members of Hillel. 

“We really had three days to organize this event, so in that short amount of time I was very worried that I was gonna get in there and it was only gonna be a few Jewish students and a couple of our friends,” said Sam Burg ’24, Hillel President. “So when I go in there and I see people out the door, I was feeling an overwhelming sense that people actually care about the Jewish people on campus, so that was a really great thing to see.” 

After Alexander Nadelburg ’26 played a traditional Jewish song on the guitar and sang for the crowd, Rabbi Rachel Putterman, who has been at Trinity for three months, began by introducing herself, thanking everyone, and then reading from the Torah. She outlined the structure of the sharing circle and then brought Professor Samuel Kassow, the chair of the Jewish Studies department and expert on the Holocaust. 

Professor Kassow explained the history of the swastika and the hate it symbolizes for the Jewish community. He noted that it was casual, everyday antisemitism that paved the way for mass violence against the Jewish community. 

Next, the floor was open for Hillel board members to speak. A number of board members spoke, whether it was about their experiences growing up Jewish, their reaction to the hate crime, or their appreciation for students showing up to this event. Some encouraged students to speak up if they hear an anti-Semitic comment and to continue attending Jewish events and learning about the culture. 

After the board members spoke, Rabbi Rachel encouraged Jewish students who are not on the board or involved with Hillel to share their thoughts. Those who spoke emphasized the need for continuous support for the Jewish community and that the help does not stop after the Solidarity Sharing Circle event is finished. There were quite a few Jewish students who spoke. 

“One of the things that really stood out to me was the amount of Jewish students who were not involved in Hillel who were able to find a space and get that sense of solidarity,” Burg said. “It was really great to see a lot of people coming out in full condemnation of antisemitism on our campus. Everyone spoke very well and everyone was saying things… about how an act of hate can really have deep ripples on the bigger community.”

Non-Jewish students and faculty could also share their thoughts, many of which asked what reparations and consequences will look like. Rabbi Rachel shared that she and other Hillel board members are working with Anita Davis, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the College’s campus climate group on educational programming regarding antisemitism. This educational programming will work on consciousness-raising, among other tools to combat antisemitism. Rabbi Rachel also noted that she is working closely with the student involved for continuous support. 

Some members of administration were also in attendance. Davis and Joe DiChristina, Vice President for Student Success and Enrollment Management, were encouraged by Rabbi Rachel to say a few words about the administrative piece of the hate crime. After their statements, which mainly involved words of support and affirmation of the educational programming, some students in the crowd continued to ask questions regarding the investigation. 

Rabbi Rachel noted that the Solidarity Sharing Circle was an event designed to provide students a space to grieve and process the emotions surrounding the hateful act. For those interested in an update regarding the investigation into the crime, the Tripod has published another story with more details regarding that side of the story. 

When asked about more ways that the non-Jewish community can support Jewish peers on campus, Burg encouraged students to attend events such as weekly Shabbat dinners on Friday evenings. Hillel also has a few larger events coming up, including Pink Shabbat on Oct. 28th in Hamlin Hall in honor of breast cancer awareness and Kristallnacht on Nov. 9th which will have a guest speaker in remembrance of the Holocaust. To find out more information on these events or find out more about support resources, contact Rabbi Rachel or follow @trinhillel on Instagram

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