Yehuda Sarna

Yehuda SarnaCommunity Contributor

Rabbi Yehuda Sarna is the Skirball Executive Director of NYU’s Hillel, The Bronfman Center.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

At NYU, Interfaith Solidarity Abounds

If NYU rates #9 on the list of “Worst Universities for Jewish Students,” then the Algemeiner would weigh in as #1 on the list of “Worst News Outlets for the Jewish Future.”

Generally, it doesn’t top that list. To the contrary, the Algemeiner has established an important voice in the Jewish communal conversation. It was the first Jewish paper to cover the incident at NYU where a dorm room of Jewish students was decorated with post-its reading “White Pride,” “Trump!”, and displaying a swastika.

Unfortunately, this time its editors decided to produce clickbait designed to nourish the ghetto cowardice which, on a bad day, some of its readers display: they hate us, let’s run.

It’s also clickbait for someone like me, who seeks to empower the next generation to force haters and anti-semites to stand down. The student residents of the room, as reported by the Algemeiner, were “strong.” We know that this is the fortitude we need to engender a bold Jewish future. And so here I am, taking the bait, proclaiming: they hate us? Let’s get in their face.

I will take any excuse I can, even shoddy lists, to tell American Jews to stand their ground.

Here’s why: in a miniaturizing world, we are coming into contact with more and more cultures, with greater and greater frequency and at higher and higher stakes. When we learn to build relationships and shape others’ impressions of Jewish people, we succeed in authentically showing our best face to those who may only see it once on this merry-go-round. Students come to the “40 Worst Universities” not only from all over the country, but from all over the world, at the most impressionable time in their life. Why would we want to miss this opportunity for a Kiddush Hashem (Sanctification of G-d’s Name)?

Equally as important is standing up not just for ourselves, but for others, as the Jewish community here has aimed to do.

And here is how we know it works: following the story in the Algemeiner, the Jewish community at NYU received a Shabbat gift from the Islamic Center at NYU to counteract the hate of that week. Hundreds of Muslim students wrote notes of solidarity, posting them collectively on a board in the shape of a heart. Unfortunately, this story did not make it into the Algemeiner narrative, nor did it influence the Algemeiner’s silly ranking.

It takes one person to draw a swastika, but hundreds to make a heart. It only takes one newspaper to dedicate itself to sending Jews on the run. The Algemeiner should not be that paper.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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At NYU, Interfaith Solidarity Abounds

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