Though Spiritually Bereft, I Never Felt Bullied As A Jew At McGill

My time at McGill University was intellectually satisfying but spiritually deficient. Let me preface my words by acknowledging that I am an Orthodox Jew and Orthodoxy was absent from McGill University’s campus. Benchmarks of Orthodoxy such as a daily prayer quorum, hot kosher food, fellow observant Jews, and Shabbat and Chagim observance were scant. Orthodox life was wanting in all these measures and hence, I ultimately transferred into NYU after a two-year sojourn in Montreal.

Zionism and anti-Zionism at McGill, however, were prevalent. In all four of my semesters at McGill, an anti-Zionist club cloaked in the visage of a “pro-Palestinian human rights” entitled SPHR (Students for Palestinian Human Rights) brought forth a motion at each semester’s General Assembly condemning or calling for a boycott of the State of Israel. There was no talk of the atrocities in Syria, the terrorism that plagued Europe, or the political extermination of Vladimir Putin’s dissidents in Russia; rather, the sole focus was on highlighting the supposed human rights violations of the State of Israel. The double-standard was stark.

Nevertheless, never for a single moment did I feel bullied, vulnerable, or embarrassed to be a Jew on campus. SPHR and its followers were the embodiment of a loud minority. They were a small group of radically left-wing students with an air of arrogance and ignorance of facts whose tenacious agenda garnered them a louder voice. However, McGill students at large, in my opinion, simply did not care about anti-Zionism or were not politically charged. Additionally, I felt that students separated Zionism from Judaism and therefore could disagree with one without the other. As such, I never once felt threatened as a Jew.

My time in NYU could not be a starker contrast to McGill. At NYU, there is a strong and burgeoning Orthodox as well as non-observant Jewish community. In terms of Orthodoxy, there is a prayer service three times daily at two different locations on campus and enough kosher food to feed an army. Moreover, there is a supportive community of Orthodoxy on campus that further fosters Jewish observance.

In my experience, anti-Zionism on campus has been negligible. Indeed, there was a BDS motion from a law school student group earlier this year, but to my understanding, that has been the extent of anti-Zionism. Unlike McGill, at NYU there are no semester-ly motions condemning Israel, nor an anti-Zionist student press and certainly no harassment (the only bullying I’ve experienced is in engaging in open and honest debate that respects right-of-the-aisle views).

As such, I feel no fear nor embarrassment to be a Jew on campus at NYU. Indeed, NYU the closest thing to home that I could find 3,000 miles away from it.

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

Though Spiritually Bereft, I Never Felt Bullied As A Jew At McGill

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Though Spiritually Bereft, I Never Felt Bullied As A Jew At McGill

Thank you!

This article has been sent!