Jewish students at Syracuse University consider the Winnick Hillel Center for Jewish Life a safe space. Now, they need it more than ever.
Last week, militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing hundreds and taking civilians captive. The violence left the Jewish community across the world reeling, as war escalates between Israel and Hamas.
Here in Syracuse, the Hillel Center is doing everything they can to show their support to Israel. Emma Burke, SU junior and a co-chair at the Hillel Center, noticed a sense of togetherness throughout the Jewish community in response to the tragedy.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Hillel community and Jewish community, as a whole, come together in the way they have in the last few days,” Burke said. “I think everyone has tried to be there to understand or to admit that they don’t understand what we’re going through. Or you can just be there as an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on.”
Freshman Mia Gottesman is another member of the Hillel. Gottesman said her dad has inspired her to always speak up, prompting her to do something.
“When I saw that many colleges were answering to what has happened in Israel, my original thing was Syracuse. I haven’t heard of anything that Syracuse has done,” she said. “So my first thought was I want to be able to inform people.”
That something was a candlelight vigil on Wednesday night. It paid off, with over 600 students in attendance.
“Just seeing crowds and crowds come to show their support, it was overwhelming,” Gottesman said. “The feeling of unity was there that night.”
The work has not stopped for the Hillel Center. They’ve planned a Shabbat to spend time with one another and try to relax. Therapy dogs are also scheduled to stop by sometime in the coming week.
In the meantime, Burke has one message for those still in Israel. “The nation of Israel will live forever.”