On the lunch period of January 18th, several students gathered in room 3104 in the English hall to take part in a workshop run by the Jewish Student Union (JSU).
The event started off with an introduction by the JSU’s president, Deena Friedman, which then transitioned to a slides presentation by the student conducting the workshop, Eliezer Teitlebaum. The slideshow began with a brief history lesson. Teitlebaum gave a summary of the significance of Israel to Jewish people and their presence in the territory, before transitioning into an overview on the becoming of the Israeli and Palestinian states as we know them today.
Once the background context was established, Teitlebaum talked about how the current subject of the Israeli government and violence in Palestine has helped stir an unjust rise in antisemitism. He brought up points as to how there are actions that might not translate as antisemitic to those who are not in the know, such as the use of the phrase “Free Palestine” which negates the existence of the Israeli state and ostracizes its historical and cultural significance to its people.
After Teitlebaum concluded, the rest of the meeting was spent in discussion in regards to addressing anti-semitism and strategies to be a good ally. Many people in the room raised their hands, waiting their turn to share their thoughts on the matter, and several asked questions.
Eliezer had been inspired to run this workshop because he understood that many nowadays learn about social and political issues via social media. The Instagram app for example has an issue for spreading lots of antisemitic messages to which Teitlebaum, in his own words, remarked “seeing this is really troubling as a Jewish person so it was important for me to give a different perspective on Israel and antisemitism.”
As the bell rang signifying the end of lunch, the workshop too wrapped up. Participants gathered up their things and made way for the door to get to their next class, though a few took the time to complement the JSU members responsible for organizing the event. Throughout the entire period, the tone of the meeting had been truly that of respect and open-mindedness.
“I honestly didn’t expect so many people to come so that was a pleasant surprise,” Teitlebaum said of the workshop much after. “It was a really great environment [and] I am planning on doing something like it later this year.”