When the first mezuzah was ripped from a Harleston Hall resident’s door frame, I had multiple conversations with my editor, considering an article in response to the heinous act of cowardice. However, due to Tufts’ swift response to the action, and my unfortunate status as a busy second-year biomedical engineer, I eventually decided that, although it may have been valuable, an article would have simply stated the obvious.
Then it happened again. And it felt like a sucker punch to the face. What seemed like an isolated incident turned into an antisemitic pattern, one to which Tufts is regrettably no stranger. Two mezuzot, a symbol of our protection by G-d, in two different residence halls, taken from their owners with a crystal clear message: “G-d is not here for you, Jew.”
Those involved, if ever caught, would likely play off the gravity of these hateful acts, perhaps seeing it as a “harmless prank” or something of the like. But, undoubtedly, they knew exactly what they were doing. The timing could not have been more indicative of this. Both incidents occurred during the height of the Jewish high holidays and amidst a rise in antisemitism on campuses across the country. The first mezuzah was taken on Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year, and the second in between Yom Kippur, the holiest of days for the Jewish people, and the end of Sukkot, the celebration of G-d’s protection of the Jewish people during their 40 years wandering the desert.
Two years ago, I chose Tufts as my university due to its inclusive nature and accepting community. However, countless times since matriculating I have seen occurrences of antisemitism, whether covert or blatant, and it erodes my soul each and every time.
Last spring, I wrote an article concerning the hidden antisemitism Jewish students experience on college campuses. And, for the most part, the response to that article was nothing but gracious. However, I never thought I would be writing about this blatant level of antisemitic activity on my college campus.
Although I never envisioned this scenario, I wish that I could say I was surprised. Tufts is, for the most part, a welcoming campus, but the greater United States is still a country with many, many people who harbor a sense of hatred toward Jewish people. Regardless of this reality, however, we Jews always find a way to persevere. Our iron will is what has gotten us this far, and it is what will continue to hold us up in the future. A mezuzah is an artifact of our faith but also a symbol of our protection by G-d. The hateful removal of these mezuzot, although cowardly and cruel, will never attain its intended effect. We know that we are stronger than the hate we endure.
Antisemitism is never warranted. It truly hurts to know that these acts came from my peers, and that they could have been committed by any of my classmates, anyone sitting across from me in Dewick, or any passerby walking beside me on Prez Lawn. We Jews have had to deal with this type of hate, and far worse, for millennia. And, undoubtedly, we will persist in spite of this constant persecution. Our community, on campus and globally, has a level of “chutzpah” that has been shown throughout generations, and that we will continue to show until the end of time.
So, to my fellow Jews and all of our allies, I want to thank you for your unwavering confidence, support and persistence, even through these distressing times. We will continue to persevere through all of the hatred, and show everyone just how strong we can be.
And to the people for whom I have some words — of which my editor would quite likely not approve — I hope you read this and understand just how undeterred we are.
Hate has no place here. For every mezuzah taken down, somewhere in the world, two more will take its place.