Caring for our Students on Campus

A Message from Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson

Many of us are watching with dismay as events unfold on college campuses around the country targeting Jewish students and other supporters of Israel, often associated with efforts fueled by opportunistic outside organizations with their own political agendas to push academic institutions to divest from companies tied to Israel. No one should endure the intimidation we have witnessed in the news, and some of our own children have experienced, but especially not students living away from home who expect the colleges they attend to be safe places for learning and discovery.

As challenging as conditions are right now on many campuses, I nonetheless remain hopeful that this moment will become a watershed opening many school leaders’ eyes to the pernicious manner in which antisemitism enters the social and academic dynamic of their communities, and that as a result, circumstances will begin to improve.

It will take time, however. And it will take our courageous commitment to calling out antisemitism wherever we see it. So to assist us, the Anti-Defamation League has provided a number of resources:

Additionally, because much of the campus antisemitism at this moment centers around Israel and accusations against Israel, I recommend that our students learn what they can about modern Middle East History. Those who understand its complexity are less likely to engage in the provocations we are watching on the news, and, if confronted, will be better able to articulate a hopeful vision for both Israelis and Palestinians.

We address these topics in our temple’s high school program. And there are many resources available, but here are two, easily accessible: a timeline of the Arab-Israeli conflict produced by the American Jewish Committee ( is always a good resource for information); and a very readable book, also about the history of the conflict, Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, by Israeli actress and activist Noa Tishby, who will speak at Emanu-El on May 2. I encourage you to attend.

On most every campus, there will be human resources to whom students can turn, and emotionally safe spaces where they can go. At many colleges, those will include Jewish organizations. At others where the Jewish presence is smaller, those may include compassionate advisors and professors. Sometimes they need to be sought out, but they are surely there.

And I and my colleagues are here, for both you and your kids. If you feel we can be helpful in addressing a challenge at school directly, or if you just want to talk, please never hesitate to reach out to us.