Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – A congregation of students, lawmakers, and religious leaders convened at the Congregation Rodeph Shalom temple in Philadelphia on Sunday to condemn growing antisemitism in their local communities and on college campuses.
University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill previously resigned
This follows Saturday’s resignation of University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) President Liz Magill, who received backlash for failing to confirm that calls for the genocide of Jews would contravene the school’s conduct policy during a congressional hearing.
Gov. Josh Shapiro, in addressing the group, recognized the smaller and larger steps undertaken by Pennsylvanians to combat antisemitism. He specifically mentioned the actions of Philadelphia students who made their voices heard and held university leadership accountable.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., a fellow Democrat, and student speakers from Harvard and Penn expressed similar sentiments. Harvard President Claudine Gay and MIT President Sally Kornbluth had also been criticized for their equivocal responses in the aforementioned congressional hearing.
The observations made by sophomore at Penn Eitan Linhart were particularly striking. He highlighted numerous antisemitic incidents on the UPenn campus, including a Jewish fraternity whose walls were spray-painted with the words “The Jews are Nazis.” He also mentioned Jewish friends who fear publicly demonstrating their faith by wearing yarmulkes on campus.
Linhart said, “What surprises me is not the hatred. What surprises me is the indifference.” His sentiment underscores the stark reality of increased antisemitism that several college campuses are currently grappling with and the lack of decisive action against such discrimination.
It also brings to the fore the importance of public protests and gatherings such as the one at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, as they are essential platforms to raise awareness, voice concerns, and push for necessary change within university policies and society as a whole.