Campus, News

Beach Hillel stands strong in the face of hate

Beach Hillel, a Jewish student club on campus, celebrated Passover on April 5, a Jewish holiday which observes the liberation of Israelites from Egyptian slavery.

As Passover possesses the theme of Jewish freedom, an increase of antisemitism in the United States has become just as apparent.

One in ten Jewish college students feel they have been excluded in some way on their campus, according to a 2022 study conducted by the American Jewish Committee. A little over 40% of those surveyed in the study also felt there had been an increase of antisemitism in America as a whole.

Blake Dujowich, vice president of Beach Hillel and president of Students Supporting Israel, said antisemitic incidents rose to “an all-time high of 2,717 in the United States last year,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.

“This is the highest number on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979,” Dujowich said.

This past February, Jaime Tran was arrested for shooting two Jewish men who were leaving different synagogues. Tran, who had an extensive history of hate crimes against Jewish people, was previously arrested by campus police in July of 2022 for having weapons on the CSULB campus.

“There were fliers put around our hallway recently that were racially insensitive and antisemitic. We have to report those things and get it on record with the university police department,” said Terri Armstrong, interim director of the Multicultural Affairs Office.

While there are branches to support Jewish students, some students said not much is being done to raise awareness of these hate crimes from campus administration.

“We have not received much outreach and support from the university administration. We need more and continued education surrounding Jewish ethnic studies and history,” Dujowich said.

Jenna Klinghoffer, a first year Jewish student and Interfaith Center volunteer, said she has yet to see the campus reach out to Beach Hillel in the case of any antisemitic event, such as the recent shooting at a Los Angeles synagogue in February.

“All that happens is the university [resident sending out an email. I don’t know how much that really does,” Klinghoffer said.

The goal of the Multicultural Affairs Office, Interfaith Center and Beach Hillel is to bring awareness to resources offered for students which support their cultural or religious identities.

“The Interfaith Center is working with Multicultural Affairs to expand our resource options,” said Melanie Edwards, director of Jewish Student Life. “We want this to be a space where students can appreciate that they have the same opportunities offered to them as many other cultural groups receive on campus.”

Hosting events has become Beach Hillel’s biggest way to interact with students. The club meets with Jewish students along with any visitors to eat a Friday night Shabbat as a group.

ChayaLeah Sufrin, executive director of Beach Hillel, noted the importance of being able to celebrate such a powerful holiday like Passover, despite an increase in hate. Sufrin said the ability to celebrate Passover each year is “our victory.”

“I celebrated Passover as a kid with my grandparents who were Holocaust survivors, and they celebrated with their grandparents, retelling the same story and passing it on,” Sufrin said. “I get to celebrate and remember that we have overcome so much. Our hope as a people is a flame that burns brightly.”

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