Much ink has been spilled recently about Rutgers University and antisemitism ("Rutgers Statements on Antisemitism Cause Alarm," June 3, 2021). For those unfamiliar, this is what happened: Rutgers Chancellor Christopher Molloy first released a statement condemning acts of antisemitism in the U.S., but then later sent an apology for not mentioning the plight of the Palestinians in the first statement. This sparked an uproar in the Jewish community, as the second statement was widely interpreted as Rutgers apologizing for condemning antisemitism. In response to this, Rutgers clarified their position with a third statement, saying that “We have not, nor would we ever, apologize for standing against antisemitism.”
Clearly, the Rutgers administration handled the situation rather poorly, and perhaps Chancellor Molloy deserves to be censured. However, we shouldn’t go overboard.
I write this letter to high school and college students who are considering coming to Rutgers, and to their parents. Do not be frightened by the fiery rhetoric surrounding Rutgers. There have been some isolated incidents of antisemitism here, just as there have been everywhere else. But Rutgers is still a good place to be Jewish.
I am a rising junior at Rutgers; I have walked around campus with a kippah on my head and my tzitzit hanging out for two years, and I have never personally experienced a single incident of antisemitism on campus, nor have I ever felt unsafe. I have never had a professor who denounced Israel in class, and I have never had anyone give me a hard time about missing school for Jewish holidays.
Rutgers has one of the largest populations of Jewish students in the country as well as some of the biggest Hillel and Chabad buildings. We have a thriving Orthodox community, kosher food, daily minyanim, Israel advocacy groups, daily Torah learning events—everything you need to be proudly Jewish on campus.
Again, Rutgers is not perfect in terms of antisemitism, but neither is the rest of the world. If you’re considering coming to Rutgers, don’t be scared off by what people are saying. We’d be delighted to have you.Tani Greengart