By Ella Prieto, Managing and News Editor
On Wed. Oct. 18 Peace and Justice Studies and the Center for Religious & Spiritual Life sponsored a Silent Vigil Against Violence in front of Pennsylvania Hall. Everyone in the campus community was invited to reflect on the events that have occurred in the Middle East in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Vigil began with Chaplain Bright speaking to the audience, followed by the Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program Hakim Williams reading a poem. Attendees then received candles to light and engaged in five minutes of silence. Ribbons were also pinned, which had messages of peace on them.
Williams, an organizer of the event, shared, “We at Peace and Justice Studies, in conjunction with the Chaplain’s office, wanted to create a simple space for our community to convene and be in solidarity with each other in light of the ongoing Palestine/Israel conflict.”
He also commented that to him, the vigil was a success if one person felt supported by the community after attending.
Co-organizer Bright stated, “At this point thousands of people are dead and thousands more are suffering and are displaced. As the College Chaplain I felt responsible to create and hold space for the magnitude of human suffering. Regardless of religious, cultural, or national identities, our community needed to be able to acknowledge the impact of this human tragedy.”
They also shared the intention to continue to serve the Gettysburg College community by participating in the planning and facilitation of more peace and solidarity events.
Student Marisa Conners ’26 attended the Vigil and shared her thoughts on the event.
“The peace vigil was a meaningful event and I deeply appreciate the words of Chaplain Bright and Professor Williams,” said Conners. “Many attendees, including myself, were moved to tears as we used this gathering to reflect on the lives being lost in conflict due to the Israel-Hamas War. Despite some issues with advertising and student inclusion, I am glad I spent part of my afternoon in mourning and solidarity.”
Hillel House Leader Gabe Taub ’25 also attended the event and stated that it was very well done and that he enjoyed it. However, he was upset that Hillel was not consulted about any of the planning.
Through emails with Bright, it was explained to Taub and other Hillel members that the organizers of the event did not wish to burden Jewish students with event logistics. Taub did not agree with this choice.
“It is not considerate to leave us out of the planning. It is considerate to bring us in and let our voices actually be represented and be present. So, that was my biggest issue with the Vigil. It felt like the voice of Jewish students was being taken away so the administration could put something on,” stated Taub.
Taub did, however, once again state the importance of the Silent Vigil and hopes that more events will take place for community healing where various religious and spiritual clubs are included in the planning.