Colleges across the United States have witnessed an unfortunate rise in antisemitism since the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7. In light of this present danger to Jewish college students, a total of 33 yeshiva high schools across the country have written a pledge that they will do everything in their power to protect their students.
The letter, which was sent to parents over the first weekend of November, outlines how these yeshiva high schools plan to foster a sense of safety for students as they prepare to head for college. The commitments include a strong Israel education, a plan to lobby government officials to prevent antisemitism and an assurance that all college recruiters will come from pro-Israel and Jewish-friendly campuses.
Read the full statement below:
At Jewish schools around the country, teachers and administrators have been tasked with supporting students who are living through one of the most traumatic events in modern Jewish history. This is a moment where all Jews must draw strength from one another.
While the war is in Israel, communities in the US are also under threat. We’ve seen rallies composed of hundreds of people – many of whom are our neighbors – form to cheer the atrocities that were inflicted upon our brothers and sisters in Israel. We’ve watched already high rates of antisemitic incidents grow exponentially.
Sadly, we aren’t just worried about the safety of our students, but also of our alumni. At colleges across the country, we’re hearing horror stories of threats and intimidation of Jewish students at the hands of fellow students and even university staff.
We are encouraged to see a coalition of more than one hundred colleges led by Yeshiva University, that jointly issued a statement, ‘standing with Israel, the Palestinians who suffer under Hamas’ cruel rule in Gaza and all people of moral conscience.’ But we have also watched with sadness as many colleges, to which we once aspired to send our graduates, have become dangerous for Jewish students.
Throughout the last few years, we have come to see that universities have allowed a toxic ideology to fester, and that ideology manifests as aggressive and overt antisemitism. We’ve heard from our graduates that students don’t even report that they are harassed and harangued daily. In some schools, it has become commonplace. Through inaction, and sometimes even with outright and overt support of administrators and professors, antisemitism is ignored at best, and increasingly, as we’ve seen, openly cheered and promoted.
A university campus should be a safe space for free speech, but it must first and foremost be a safe space. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, on many campuses it is no longer physically safe for Jewish students. There is a critical difference between hate speech and free speech, and while free speech is necessary for a university to flourish, it cannot allow hate speech to fester.
Throughout the history of the United States, the Jewish community has contributed to every sector of society. Jewish students have indelibly enriched the American university experience. We expect universities to uphold basic standards of decency and demonstrate moral clarity and support all students, both Jewish and not.
As leaders of yeshiva high schools across North America, we work together to ensure that our students are prepared to engage a challenging world with confidence informed by Torah. While each school has its own hashkafic approach and its particular role in our broader community, we come together at this historic moment to support each other and work on several collaborative initiatives. As a community of yeshivot, our schools are committed to the following:
Engagement with Colleges and Universities
- We will directly communicate with colleges or universities that seek to recruit at our schools and expect them to communicate their policies, training protocols and security commitments that will assure Jewish students’ safety and the support of a pro-Israel community on campus.
- We will create a committee of Yeshiva High School principals that will seek to meet with college administrations to demand changes, including:
- Ensuring the physical safety of Jewish and other pro-Israel students through increased security presence.
- Requiring anti-discrimination and diversity training for all students and faculty on campuses to include training on antisemitism.
- Making sure that campus diversity offices are resources that support our students.
- We commend the colleges and universities that have supported the Jewish community, and we aim to develop our relationships with those schools further.
- We will organize lobbying initiatives with local, state and federal officials to combat antisemitic harassment and to make the protection of Jewish students on college campuses a priority.
- All of our yeshivot meaningfully engage our students with robust Israel education. Many also provide campus advocacy training. The current circumstances demand that our students be equipped with the confidence and moral clarity to address ignorance, anti-Zionism, and the new realities that the pro-Israel community faces on campus. We will work collaboratively to empower our students to confidently defend the State of Israel and counter the current climate of misinformation and confusion on many campuses.
In these challenging times for the Jewish people, we are proud to be a part of a community that comes together to support each other and Israel. Am Yisrael Chai.”
Rabbi Jeffrey Beer, Westchester Hebrew High School, New York
Rabbi Joseph Beyda, Yeshivah of Flatbush Joel Braverman High School, New York
Rabbi David Block, Shalhevet High School, California
Rabbi Dr. Hillel Broder, Berman Hebrew Academy, Maryland
Mr. Jonathan Cannon, Yeshivat Ramaz, New York
Rabbi Eli Ciner, Yeshivat Frisch, New Jersey
Mrs. Bluma Drebin, Stella K. Abraham Girls High School, New York
Mrs. Esther Eisenman, New England Jewish Academy, Connecticut
Rabbi Dr. Seth Grauer, Bnei Akiva Schools of Toronto, Canada
Mr. Jason Feld, Akiba Yavneh Academy, Texas
Rabbi Avery Joel, Fuchs Mizrachi School, Ohio
Mr. Shimmie Kaminetsky, Katz Yeshiva High School of South Florida, Florida
Rabbi Yisroel Kaminetsky, DRS Yeshiva High School for Boys, New York
Mrs. Deena Kobre, Naaleh High School for Girls, New Jersey
Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Kobrin, North Shore Hebrew Academy High School, New York
Rabbi Jonathan Kroll, SAR High School, New York
Rabbi Avi Levitt, Atlanta Jewish Academy, Atlanta
Ms. Naomi Lippman, HAFTR High School, New York
Rabbi Dr. Leonard Matanky, Ida Crown Jewish Academy, Chicago
Rabbi Shmuel Miller, HF Epstein Hebrew Academy, Missouri
Mrs. Sara Munk, Shulamith High School, New York
Mrs. CB Neugroschl, Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls, New Jersey
Rabbi Ami Neuman, JEC High School, New Jersey
Rabbi Eliezer E. Rubin, Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School, New Jersey
Mrs. Bracha Rutner, YUHSG/Central, New York
Rabbi Shimon Schenker, YUHSB/MTA, New York
Rabbi Eli Slomnicki, Hebrew Academy of Nassau County, New York
Rav Aryeh Stechler, Heichal Hatorah, New Jersey
Rabbi Noam Stein, Kohelet Yeshiva High School, Philadelphia
Rabbi Shlomo Stochel, Torah Academy of Bergen County, New Jersey
Dr. Bethany Strulowitz, Bruriah High School, New Jersey
Rabbi Arye Sufrin, YULA High Schools, California
Rabbi Richard Tobias, Barkai Yeshivah High School, New York