The 2017 year has been a record year for anti-Semitic motivated hate crimes. Across the United States, the Anti-Defamation League, a nonprofit organization that tracks and combats hate of all kinds, has observed a notable rise in anti-Semitic incidents and attacks. ZBT chapters and brothers around the country have been countering hate on their campuses and in their communities through service and activism.
On February 20, police were called to Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in the St. Louis suburb of University City, Missouri. Over 100 Jewish gravesites were vandalized, leaving the cemetery completely desecrated. ZBT brothers from the Alpha Xi Chapter at Washington University in St. Louis immediately responded by going to clean up the cemetery.
Chapter President Perry L. Gordon, Alpha Xi (Washington University) ’19, was present at the cleanup and described the chapter’s motivation for sending about 20 brothers to volunteer.
“Originally when we heard the news, we thought we needed to do something, we reached out to Chabad on our campus. We are a fraternity, we do have resources and we are passionate, so we have a responsibility to be involved in the community. As a Jewish fraternity, many people were affected personally, we had to make a difference,” Brother Gordon said. “It was an opportunity to make a difference in the community and give back. Often during these situations, the leadership takes charge, but we had all brothers who wanted to do this, and it didn’t matter what background was or what religion or race you were came together as brothers to help.”
Alpha Xi Chapter showed extraordinary leadership and exemplified the values of ZBT through their service and opposition to hate.
A couple of days later, a similar attack occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Mt. Caramel Cemetery was vandalized and desecrated. Max N. Buchdahl, Alpha Beta (Greater Philadelphia Area) ’18, a student at Temple University, attended both a cleanup and a rally put on by the Jewish Federation of Philadelphia. The rally, which was called the Stand Against Hate rally, was attended by government officials and people of all backgrounds.
“I think that the struggles that the Jewish community is facing right now and after the attack, are the same struggles that other communities face. It’s important to volunteer and show support for our community, but also showing support for other communities,” Brother Buchdahl said.
The attacks on these cemeteries were disturbing and motivated by hate. Standing up against hate of all kinds is an important value to the Jewish community and to brothers of Zeta Beta Tau.
When hate came to The Ohio State University, the brothers at Nu Chapter did not remain silent. Students at OSU proposed a referendum supporting BDS on campus. BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, a campaign to get universities, corporations, religious institutions and governments to divest in Israeli companies and other companies that have holdings or investments in Israel. The BDS campaign seeks to delegitimize and isolate Israel, instead of engaging it. In 2015,
Many brothers in the Nu Chapter were instrumental in defeating a student-wide ballot initiative to make BDS the official policy of The Ohio State University. ZBT is proud of Harrison S. Roth, Nu ’18, Brett P. Kaplan, Nu’17, Mitchell B. Herman, Nu’18, Gary J. Sukienik, Nu’17, Brian M. Weinstein, Nu’19 Adrian E. Niedermann, Nu’20, Ryan S. Smith, Nu’’19, and Micah E. Kerbel, Nu ’’18, for their work against BDS on the OSU campus. ZBT will continue to work with chapters to combat BDS on college campuses.
The 2016-2017 was a record year for hate in the United States. ZBT both on a national level and on a chapter level had a record response. ZBT hired a new staff member to track and respond to hate incidents on its campuses and chapter leaders have been quick to respond to hate incidents. David S. Dworkin, Alpha Beta (Greater Philadelphia Area) ’17, is now working as the Fraternity’s Assistant Director of Hate Prevention. Read more on Brother Dworkin and his job here.
ZBT is equipped and ready to take on the challenges of hate and anti-Semitism that we face in 2017 and beyond.