By Jonathan Wenger, Staff Writer
On Nov. 15, a Peace Observation was held at the Peace Pole/Silverstein Memorial. Faculty and students alike gathered in solidarity with the people of Israel and Gaza.
The event was co-sponsored by the Interfaith Council, Religious and Spiritual Life, College Life, J Street U and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Chief Diversity Officer Dr. Eloisa Gordon-Mora welcomed everyone and outlined the purpose of the event.
“Today is not a moment for political discussion, although there is an urgent need for many to be had. Today’s not even a moment for religion specifically, although extensive human suffering demands much consolation,” Gordon-Mora said. “Today’s a moment of coming together to recognize our common humanity in no uncertain terms, to affirm the most elusive of human necessity: peace.”
Gordon-Mora then introduced several students who led those gathered in various religious and cultural traditions. This was done in an effort to promote peace amidst the ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine. The students speaking represented the Hillel Jewish Association, the Muslim Student Association, DiscipleMakers Christian Fellowship and the Catholic Ministry.
Gabe Taub ’25 spoke on the Jewish tradition of naming: “In Judaism, it is said that you die twice. First when you die and second when your name is no longer said, be that 40 years, be that 400, eventually your name will fade. That is why the names of our loved ones who have passed are said at least once a year to declare their memory before the community.”
Taub then welcomed those gathered to offer up the names of any loved ones.
Leila Elshehawy ’24 offered a poem by Mahmoud Davish entitled “The Earth Presses Against Us.” Davish’s home was destroyed by the Israel Defense Forces in 1948, and the poem details the violence and bloodshed endured.
Rebecca Ashdot ’24 spoke about the importance of community. Ashdot urged students and faculty to be connected with their friends and family during this time: “Check on your Jewish friends, your Muslim friends, your Christian friends, all of your friends and family, because you have no idea how they can feel at this time.”
Ashdot then led everyone gathered in the Mourners Kaddish, a Jewish tradition.
Following the student speakers, Director of Religious and Spiritual Life Chaplain Michael Bright introduced another group of students who led the assembly in prayers. Those leading in prayer came from various faith traditions, and Bright concluded the time of prayer.
Bright then encouraged those gathered to get involved and let their voices be heard. He encouraged US nationals to contact their Senators and Representatives to voice their opinion on the conflict that is occurring in Gaza. He also requested that those gathered would educate themselves on what is happening and to “read widely.” Finally, he recommended that students be involved with various groups on campus such as J Street and the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies program.
As the ceremony concluded, students and faculty were given a piece of paper on which they could write the name of a loved one who had passed. The names were then displayed on a string located near the Peace Pole.