May 28, 2024
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Rutgers: Still a Great Place to Be Jewish

Last week’s Jewish Link published an article about how Orthodox high schools should better educate their students how to be an Israel advocate on college campuses (“What University Students Wish Their Yeshiva High School Israel Advocacy Class Had Covered,” August 18, 2022). I am happy that the Link is addressing such an important topic and I have no qualms with the article as a whole. I do, however, object to its characterization of my Jewish community at Rutgers University. The article quotes a student named Ezra Perlmutter, who describes Rutgers as a place that suffers “constant incidents of antisemitism.” In my experience, that is simply not the case.

I am a rising senior at Rutgers. I patronize the Hillel and Chabad buildings multiple times a day for davening, meals and social and Torah events. I am visibly Jewish wherever I go, with a kippah on my head and tzitzit strings hanging out. And in the three years I’ve spent on campus, I have personally experienced exactly zero incidents of antisemitism. No violence, no harassment, no anti-Jewish slurs, no professors being difficult about missing class due to chagim. (The worst I’ve gotten is that a guy on the street once saw my tzitzit and asked if I was headed to play flag football).

My experiences are not unique. I spoke to several other involved Orthodox Rutgers friends after reading last week’s article, and none of them had encountered anything close to what the article describes. I do not know Perlmutter personally, and I do not know what circles he hangs out in. But nothing in my personal experience nor in the experiences of any of my friends on campus suggests that antisemitic incidents “occur on a weekly basis.”

I do not claim that there have never been incidents of antisemitism at Rutgers. The AEPi Jewish fraternity getting egged two years in a row on Yom HaShoah is horrible, and pro-Palestinian activists detouring from a march to yell slurs at the AEPi house was also despicable. But the university released a statement condemning each incident after it occurred, and members of the Rutgers administration regularly show support for the Jewish community by visiting our Shabbat dinners and meeting with Hillel and Chabad leadership. They clearly care about us.

I am a typical member of the Rutgers Orthodox community—I went to TABC for high school, spent a year in yeshiva and my parents live in Teaneck and read The Jewish Link every Shabbos. Dear reader, if you are a student considering coming to Rutgers and would be part of the Orthodox community, you should have no issue being Jewish at Rutgers. Please visit us on campus! Experience our vibrant social scene, dynamic Shabbat life, beautiful Hillel and Chabad buildings and daily minyanim and Torah events. And if you have questions about anything related to Jewish life at Rutgers, please reach out to me at [email protected]. I’m always happy to talk about my community.

Tani Greengart
New Brunswick
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