With Israeli flags draped across their backs, Binghamton University students showed their support for Israel with a vigil honoring those killed in the violence this past month.
The vigil was organized by BU group Bearcats for Israel. Jewish groups on campus such as Hillel, Chabad, Maimonides and the Binghamton University Zionist Organization, and Greek organizations Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi and Alpha Epsilon Pi came to show their support. Nearly 100 people attended the vigil.
The vigil was in response to the wave of terrorism that has hit Israel and Palestine in the past month. There has been a surge of violence in East Jerusalem between Israelis and Palestinians, leaving 10 Israeli citizens and 48 Palestinian citizens dead. The vigil was held to honor Israeli civilians who were attacked in the streets with shootings, stabbings and random acts of violence.
Students showed pictures of civilian victims of the past month’s attacks, telling stories about their families living in fear in Israel. They concluded the vigil by singing songs and prayers in Hebrew to commemorate those lost.
Joshua Seed, president of Bearcats for Israel and a senior double-majoring in geography and Judaic studies, said that the vigil was both to allow the BU Jewish community to express its sadness and to apprise the greater Binghamton community of what has been happening recently in Israel.
“It’s to give an opportunity for our own community and the allies of the Jewish community to come together as supporters of Israel and to give them a way to unite, because we’re grieving right now,” Seed said. “We hope students that pass by gain an understanding of what’s going on in Israel and that Israel is going through this tough period of time, but also that the spirit of Israelis is a strong one, and Israelis respond to terror by keeping their daily lives and not changing their routine.”
Rabbi Akiva Weiss, the rabbi of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (OU-JLIC), compared the vigil to the rally by the Turkish community that happened last week in response to a bombing in Turkey. He said they both allowed students to feel connected to their homeland and show their support.
“I think the Jewish students feel very helpless here in America when they see people of their faith who are being murdered and massacred in Israel,” Weiss said. “It’s important that they feel there is something for them to do; in the face of tragedy a person naturally wants to do something to make sense of it.”
Ilana Forchheimer, a sophomore majoring in human development, said she felt it was important for her to go to support Israel and her friends.
“Even though we’re in America, Israel is still a place that hits close to home for a lot of people,” Forchheimer said. “It being a Jewish state, a lot of people will have family there or have a strong connection.”
Elijah Alsdorf, a senior majoring in biology, said that he came more to honor those killed rather than to discuss the politics of the area.
“I recognize both sides of the conflict, but that’s not what I’m there for,” Alsdorf said. “The whole point of the rally wasn’t about Israel versus Palestine as much as it was about the nonsensical deliberate murder of civilians.”