Today is Yom Ha’Shoah and all across the world Jews will join with their communities to ensure that we never forget. We will recite the names of those who perished in the Holocaust and say kaddish for those we lost and those who will never be.
To commemorate the day, AEPi chapters will be participating in AEPi’s “We Walk to Remember,” the largest student-run multi-campus Yom Ha’Shoah program in the world. We expect that close to 100 of our chapters will be leading these programs on their campuses. While groups of students – generally dressed in black and wearing stickers which simply say, “Never Forget” – march in silence through campuses and communities and urge their peers to take seriously the lessons of the Holocaust and fight every day to make sure that the Jewish people – or any other group of people or nationality – are not subject to genocide (an especially relevant message in 2022). Check out this great story on last night’s Walk at Muhlenberg College.
Last year, during a Yom Ha’Shoah observance outside of the AEPi house at Rutgers University, eggs were thrown at the chapter house. Last week, our Rutgers Brothers were again targeted when members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) left a rally in another part of campus and congregated outside of our chapter house, chanting and encouraging violence against Jews. A few days later, eggs were thrown at the house once again.
AEPi International is working with the Rutgers campus administration to do what can be done to keep our Brothers safe. We’re heartened by the strong response we have gotten in their efforts to find the perpetrators of these acts and protect our students.
Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. Yesterday The ADL released its latest findings showing that antisemitic incidents have increased 34% over the last year and are at the highest point since they began tracking the statistic in 1979. During this academic year alone, we have had multiple incidents of online harassment, vandalism at chapter houses, Brothers have been harassed because of being Jewish and/or pro-Israel on the streets or in their roles on student government and swastikas continue to make an appearance on campuses. Of course, all of these incidents are occurring at the same time as multiple schools are considering BDS proposals in their student government.
At Rutgers – and on 155 other campuses – our Brothers’ response has been to reject the intimidation and to show their pride in their Jewish heritage and support for Israel. Tear down an Israeli flag and we will raise five more. Yell at a small group of Jewish students walking to class and we will walk in bigger groups. Target our fraternity houses during a Holocaust Remembrance event and we will march through campus, demanding that no one is able to forget the atrocities we have faced.
Holocaust survivor and author Ellie Wiesel wrote, “The opposite of love in not hate, it’s indifference.” I can promise you that AEPi is not indifferent.
Our Brothers are making an impact on their campuses every day to help secure a brighter future for the Jewish people. AEPi will #NeverForget.