Letters: There is a sense of protest in being peaceful

Guest Author

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Dear Collegian,

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In Judaism, the Sabbath is known as Shabbat, and it lasts from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night (Jewish holidays cycle with the lunar calendar). It is one of the holiest celebrations in the Jewish year, traditionally marking the seventh day of Creation – the day of rest. Throughout our history, this has been a day to spend with family and friends, without the stresses of daily life encumbering us. However, as has happened too frequently in the Jewish history, people persecuted the Jews and forced them to either convert or die. Yet, many Jews kept up their practices in secret, as an act of protest against their conquerors.

Last Friday night, at Hillel, despite a fairly universal sense of anxiety and unease, we were able to have our weekly Shabbat dinner in comfort and relative peace. By doing this, having this dinner as normal, people assuaged their concerns for personal security and a protest had. This protest was another successful Shabbat in the face of potential or future danger to Jewish life. This protest, unfortunately, has become just as much a tradition as Shabbat itself is.

To calm the sense of unease and general concern floating through the Hillel house, I gave the speech, which can serve as a message for all peoples who feel attacked or threatened by the venom heard at the LSC last Friday:

“Shabbat shalom, everyone. I hope you’re all enjoying the food so far. As we are all aware, there is a rally at the LSC as we relax here on this otherwise nice Friday evening. Attendees are hearing, and some spewing, clear, unfiltered, vitriolic hate speech – regardless of what they might claim. Make no mistake, this event tonight is thinly-veiled neo-Nazi rhetoric.

A few people have expressed to me their anxiety and apprehension regarding personal safety and ability to have a safe place even here at Hillel. Well, I would argue that our being here, our enjoying this excellent Shabbos meal – with friends and colleagues, new faces and old – is exactly what marks the best type of protest against this rally. Be here, be in the moment, because you are safe here, you are welcome anytime here, and above all else, each and every one of you is loved here.

Recall the history of the Jews: peoples consistently tried to kill and conquer us, we survived their attacks– we eat and celebrate. Shabbat is a day of rest; relax in the victory we are forging over the neo-Nazis, the anti-Semites, the deluded; for we are strong, and we are one.

A quote that resonates with me more than any other, especially now, is from a series I hold near and dear to my heart, Harry Potter: “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light!” Let that light be this act of protest, this distinctly Jewish, inherently anti-Nazi meal. Let the light be Holocaust Awareness Week in two weeks. Let the light be a fond memory. Let the light be stronger than the dark. Hate, darkness is merely the absence of light, of joy: do not allow this, you are the most powerful superhero of your life…be that hero by not allowing this rally to force a change on our beloved campus.

Now, have a glass of wine if you choose, it’s definitely that type of night, and l’chaim!”

Kenny Shuster

Leadership team at Hillel of CSU

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