Hillel addresses hateful N. Campus vandalism

Jennifer Leopoldt

Members of Northwestern’s Jewish community met Wednesday night to express their shock and confusion about recent hate incidents on campus and to plan the next step in their fight against prejudice.

About 25 students and Jewish community leaders gathered at the Fiedler Hillel Center to talk about the two swastikas that were found in NU dorms in the last week.

For Members Only is coordinating a unity march today at 4 p.m. that also will respond to racist remarks scrawled in another residence hall last week. The rally begins at the Black House and proceeds to The Rock, Bobb and McCulloch Halls, and Ayers College of Commerce and Industry. The event also is sponsored by Hillel, Residential Life and Alpha Epsilon Pi.

Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, director of the Tannenbaum Chabad House, said anti-Semitic incidents can seem like a distant problem until they happen to friends or colleagues.

“It sinks home when it happens to one of your own,” Klein said.

Racial and sexual slurs were found written in CCI on Feb. 11. Two days later, a swastika was discovered etched on a door in McCulloch Hall. Another swastika was found Monday on Weinberg sophomore Avi Feinberg’s door in Bobb Hall.

At the Hillel meeting, Feinberg said NU has responded well to the situation and said members of Bobb also have been supportive.

“I’ve felt a real sense of community since then, and I’m sure we can sustain it,” he said. “That’s very promising.”

Students also praised the support generated by an online solidarity petition condemning racial, religious and sexual prejudice. As of midnight Wednesday, more than 1,800 people signed the petition, which can be found at http://www.petitiononline.com/solidNU/petition.html.

One student speculated that the person who drew the swastika was either trying to be malicious, or did not realize the true meaning of the symbol.

But Miriam Lieberman, Hillel Cultural Life co-director, said the motives behind the incidents should not make a difference.

“Regardless of what was intended when someone did this, what matters is that we have a strong response from the campus,” said Lieberman, a Weinberg junior.

Richard Goldberg, Hillel’s executive vice president, said he was glad the forum allowed students to express their feelings.

“The most important thing that Hillel could provide is a forum for students to vocalize their emotions and concerns and not let it simmer,” said Goldberg, a Medill sophomore.

Rabbi Michael Mishkin, Hillel’s executive director, said the Jewish community now must organize meaningful follow-up events and work to fight prejudice in Jewish communities outside of NU.

Mishkin said he would especially like to see professors become more involved, and Lieberman said she hoped many students also would show their support.

“Everyone should feel affected by this,” she said.