We are writing in light of Chief Higgins’s report tonight of incidents of racist and antisemitic graffiti at the construction site of Kline Biology Tower, as the people who created this grotesque visual display of hatred and their motives for doing so remain unknown.
The legacies of antisemitic and racist violence in America are old; they are also frighteningly alive today, and are part of a larger web of hatred of which this graffiti is a small but non-trivial element. In this moment of rising violence against Jews and other minorities in America, even symbolic incidents like this one take on larger and darker meanings, particularly for our community’s many Jews of Color, who are affected in multiple, intersecting ways.
Because of these many layers of context, we are particularly grateful for the communication from Yale’s public safety staff and leadership, and the seriousness with which they are handling this incident. We are not aware of any specific threat of violence against Yale’s Jewish or other minority communities at this time.
These are the weeks of the fall when we read the stories of Adam, Noah and their descendants: the birth of humanity’s kaleidoscopic diversity of languages and bodies from our primordial unity. And our rabbis of blessed memory draw two piercingly timeless lessons from this story, “Why was humanity initially created from a single person? So that no one ever say, ‘My ancestors are greater than yours.’ And, to teach you the greatness of the Blessed Holy One: when a person mints a coin, each and every one is identical. But when the Holy Blessed One fashions humanity, no two are alike.” It is a religious imperative to discern God’s handiwork in the variety of human forms, and a commandment of memory to reject any and every hierarchy that one group may impose on another. So we join together with all the targets of this crime in an embrace of our shared dignity across, and because of, our differences – and our collective strength.
Our first instinct and most powerful response is to come together; there is no substitute for the warmth and strength of community during moments of fear like this one. So, tomorrow morning starting at 10am we’ll be holding space for one another at Slifka North (105 Whitney), with coffee & Claire’s and a lot of love. All are welcome.
If you don’t know what to do or to think right now, you’re not alone. You can always – and especially now – reach out to any or all of us. We’re all in this together, and we’re here with and for you, now and always. If you feel a desire for solidarity and community, don’t shy away from this sadly significant moment to reach out to friends throughout the Yale community to let them know that you’re thinking of them. Your concern and connection may well mean more to them than you can predict – and perhaps to you as well.
Yours in solidarity,
Uri Cohen, Executive Director
Rabbi Jason Rubenstein, Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain at Yale
Ruthie Davis, Hillel Student Board Co-President
Zevi Siegal, Hillel Student Board Co-President
Destiny Rose Murphy, Kehillah Leader
Darya Watnick, Kehillah Leader