July 19, 2024
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July 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It is graduation season in colleges across the nation, and given the shift in the mindset, to put it lightly, in college students since October 7, I’m sure I am not the only one who is half curious, half nervous to see what new shocking updates would be coming to light from university graduations.

As a graduate of Touro University myself, I attended the Lander Colleges graduation for the mens and womens schools of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, even though I graduated six months ago, as they generally hold one ceremony a year. This year’s 50th graduation held special meaning for the Touro administration that took the stage, donning the uniforms of their alma mater. And for most of the graduates, this graduation is also especially important as they are among the high school class of 2020, or, more infamously, the class that did not get a graduation due to the covid-19 outbreak.

So, the excitement was palpable.

I sported my gown with an Israeli flag pin and my cap adorned with the Hebrew letters forming the words “Am Yisrael Chai”—“The nation of Israel lives,” along with a painted Israeli flag and yellow ribbon to represent the hostages. Graduates were requested not to decorate their caps, but I got a compliment from one of the deans, so I think it was alright. I also got a lot of thumbs up and smiles on my walk from the Touro campus on 60th Street to Lincoln Center on Broadway, which was a welcome sight on the streets of Manhattan. People at the graduation asked to take pictures of my cap, or standing next to me wearing it. It’s not actually possible to show your face and the back of your cap at the same time, so if you saw any pictures of someone standing next to it, hi—that was me.

The three hour ceremony was notable for the singing of Hatikva, which clearly meant so much more this year, as well as the doctorate that was awarded to Congressman Mike Lawler for his astounding work in fighting antisemitism at the legal level. His acceptance speech started off with the quip, “Rashida Talib was sorry she couldn’t make it,” which got a grateful laugh out of the audience of hundreds of family members.

Everything seemed to be going fine, as the ceremony ended without any major hiccups (though some graduates did have to whisper their name to the emcee so they could be read aloud, but everyone had smiles on) until we got outside, to be greeted by an entourage of Neturei Karta, who knew just what we needed on our big day. Dressed in Chassidish garb and holding signs reading “Zionism is Antisemitism,” because logic is their strong point, they held strong as I walked by them, letting out some choice words along with my loud booing sent in their direction.

But many graduates in secular colleges would consider this minor experience as a blessing, because the videos that have come out from different graduation ceremonies have been nauseating and enough to make you go check the calendar to make sure we didn’t time travel back to 1939. In particular, the crowd of UCLA graduates featured five rows of students who, during the singing of the national anthem, held up their palms covered in red paint. How this symbol has been coopted to somehow “free” anyone is beyond me, as these hands famously represent the kidnap and torture of a Jewish Israeli man.

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