Israel on Campus

State of Jewish Bruin Life

In light of the war in Israel

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Hillel at UCLA Statement: May 10, 2024

Students who were relegated to remote classes at the end of last week were looking forward to returning to campus on Monday, May 6th.  However, before 9am, they were notified that classes would remain remote for the day…and by mid-day they were notified that classes would be remote for the rest of the week.  Student Government (USAC) elections, which were set to occur this week, were postponed until next week.  All the while the current (outgoing) student government passed a resolution calling for the resignation of Chancellor Block (in addition to articulating a number of additional demands of UCLA that mirror the demands of the encampment).  The student activists who align with anti-Zionism are emboldened and holding campus back from typical proceedings with success.  The residual impact of the encampment continues to have a limiting impact on UCLA students and Jewish Bruins…and we have no way of knowing what the future has in store.  

And, just as Hillel found ways to continue to engage and show up for Jewish Bruins during the times of remote earning during Covid, so too are we rapidly adapting to the unpredictable current campus climate.  This week was packed with programming, offering students incentive after incentive to come out of their apartments and be nourished by the benefit of being in community.

To give you a sense of how Hillel’s can’t stop/won’t stop approach to student engagement, here’s a glimpse of our immediate past week and the highlights for the week ahead:

  • We began the week with Yom Hashoah programming, including a very well attended event to honor and learn from a child survivor of the Holocaust and social media posts about the Shoah, the modern genocide of the Jewish people.  
  • On Wednesday we hosted a day-long blood drive in partnership with the UCLA Blood Bank in our building. 
  • Simultaneously, we welcomed 100 students to the building for our Wonderful Wednesday program aimed at encouraging students to Get Out the Vote and promoting the candidate endorsements made by Hillel student leadership. 
  • That same evening we welcomed Dalia Ziada, who came to UCLA Hillel on her west coast tour.  Ziada, an Egyptian award-winning writer and political analyst specializing in geopolitics and defense policy in the Middle East, impressed upon students that support of Israel extends beyond Jewish people and can and should be a global priority.  
  • On Thursday Bruins for Israel hosted a screening of the Supernova documentary, featuring testimony of people who escaped the Nova Music Festival massacre.  Over dinner, students stayed to hear from Ofri Reiner, a Nova survivor who is touring and speaking about what she witnessed and her relentless pursuit of trauma healing.  
  • In the coming week we continue the observance and celebration of the Yamim (including Yom Hazikaron and Yom Haatzmaut).  Bruins for Israel has been hard at work planning a party to lift Israel up on the anniversary of its establishment - music, Israeli food, decorations, photo opps, clothing/swag give-aways, temporary body art and remarks from an IDF reservist are only some of the elements of this Hillel take-over event.  
  • We will end next week with Sababa Shabbat, an Israel-themed Shabbat dinner which is anticipated to draw 200 attendees and is known as one of the most memorable Shabbatot of the school year.  

Though we know not what the future holds on campus, we feel certain that Hillel will relentlessly pursue our goals of providing a physical and emotional space for community and Jewish celebration all the way through graduation.  In times of uncertainty, Jewish Bruins can count on Hillel - and this is, in large part, thanks to you.

Next week we will message you every day with nuggets of information on the ways you can help Hillel impact Jewish Bruins during our Global Giving Week.  Yes, there will be an opportunity to double the impact of your donation thanks to a matching grant challenge that starts RIGHT NOW (CLICK HERE to be among the first to participate).  As well, we will share with you other creative, tangible ways you can show your support for students (beyond giving a charitable gift). 

Aside from the students, you are our greatest partners.  Thanks for being by our side and always showing how you care.

Shabbat Shalom,

Hillel at UCLA Statement: May 2, 2024

It’s a very sad day for UCLA and Bruins everywhere. Last night was devastating - and the clean-up of this mess has left us reeling. Hillel at UCLA is putting the needs of our Jewish students first and we are wishing for healing for all students.  We maintain hope that the campus community can forge together to support their collective well-being in the aftermath of this defining moment. We are grateful to the University leadership and the local authorities for taking the difficult steps to enforce their policies and start the process of bringing order back to our campus. We are praying for continued calm. 

We also know there will be a lot to reflect on in the coming days and weeks ahead about the anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist hate and rhetoric that was part of and in parts of the encampment. Our Hillel will always do what’s best for the Jewish students, their pluralistic identities, and the antisemitism they face on campus.

Hillel at UCLA Statement: May 1, 2024

It has been a few tense days since our last message because our resolute focus has been on the well-being of our Jewish Bruin students and the impact of the encampment on campus climate.  The purpose of this message is to bring you up to speed on some key events that have taken place and to give a forecast of what is likely to come.

On Tuesday afternoon the University formally notified participants in the encampment of the policies they are violating (CLICK HERE to view the notice) and just this evening has broadcast a disbursal order for those in the encampment.  Simultaneously, the Chancellor issued notices to the entire Bruin community which can be read HERE, and Royce Hall and Powell Library were also closed through Friday (these are the buildings which bookend the encampment).  

Late Tuesday night, most Jewish Bruins were startled by a violent confrontation at the encampment instigated by a group of non-students from off-campus.  Our Hillel, and the Jewish students of UCLA, condemn all forms of violence, especially targeting students.  CLICK HERE to read a message written by Hillel student leaders with the intent of distancing themselves from off-campus agitators.  

Classes were canceled today and will be virtual for the remainder of the week. The perimeters of campus have been secured and in the last few hours, police and media presence has grown significantly.  We hope for the safety of everyone involved, and that next steps taken can occur with peace and cooperation.  We expect that this will be a difficult few days ahead. We have increased security at the Hillel facility.  We encourage our students to make safe choices and, when possible, avoid areas that are likely to become “hot spots” and we explicitly discourage any off-campus community members, no matter what the goal, from coming onto campus. 

While the campus is in an incredible state of dynamism, Hillel remains steady in our commitment to our students.  Today we hosted a Town Hall with a high-level member of the UCLA Student Organizations, Leadership & Engagement office.  And we have a huge host of programs on the docket for the rest of this week and the following two weeks, that will serve to affirm our Jewish pride and commitment to Israel.  

Hillel staff are on call 24/7 for students and our building is full of food, fellow community members and ample resources to stay safe in every aspect. 

Your support in this moment lifts our spirits and fuels our capacity to keep Hillel secure and fully operable. 

Hillel at UCLA Statement: April 26, 2024

As we head into Passover Shabbat I wanted to share with you the latest from campus.  Hillel students, lay leaders and professional staff have been observing the anti-Israel encampment.  Since Thursday morning it has grown to take up more space and include more people.  The activists have now camped out for two days and one night.

Hillel fundamentally supports the rights of every student to engage in free speech and right to assembly, however it is clear that this encampment violates a long list of University policies and rules, not to mention it impedes the ability for students - especially our Jewish students - to learn and live freely on campus.

We are in ongoing communication with administration to learn more about a possible timeline for action against these policy violations and have communicated what our community feels: that no exception for the rules and policies should be made at the expense of Jewish students.

We are simultaneously doing our best in this situation to keep the environment around this encampment as calm as possible, and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation in doing so. The vast majority of Jewish students prefer to avoid confrontation and minimize any risk of escalation - this is in service of their big picture goals to safely demonstrate Jewish pride and pursue their studies. To realize this preference, individuals who are external to campus are encouraged to please exercise caution and careful consideration when coming onto campus and showing support for Jewish life and Israel.

As we look forward to welcoming our community to Passover Shabbat services, dinner and Shabbat daytime programming and meals, please know that we will continue to do what we do best - promote community, togetherness and joyful Jewish life.

We couldn’t do it without you!  

Shabbat shalom,

Dan Gold
Executive Director

P.S. We are in around-the-clock communication with campus and students, however, due to the final Hag days of Passover, Hillel will refrain from external communication/updates regarding the encampment until Wednesday.

Hillel at UCLA Statement: April 25, 2024

Across the country, college campuses are being inundated with protest encampments that intimidate Jews and encourage widespread campus disruption. The intensity of anti-Zionist rhetoric and action has increased to unprecedented levels and the activism aims to take over public campus spaces and fill them with intimidating and harassing tactics. 

We have heard from our colleagues at Columbia, MIT, NYU, Minnesota, University of Texas, and USC and are learning from their deeply disturbing campus circumstances. We are vigilantly monitoring UCLA’s anti-Zionist channels so that we will be prepared in the case these encampments make their way to our campus.  We are in round-the-clock contact with the top levels of the UCLA administration, UCPD, LAPD, the Jewish Federation’s Community Security Initiative, Hillel International, and others on and off campus, collecting relevant information and coordinating responses to any urgent needs (security, well-being, etc) that our student community has. If you are asked what Hillel is doing in the face of this rapidly spreading crisis, please let others know that we are doing everything possible to help prevent this happening on our campus while also to prepare in the event that it does.

We were able to offer Passover programming without disruption, however as we write this message we are receiving word that encampments are beginning to be built at UCLA. 

My, and my professional staffs’, commitment is to the safety and well-being of our students. No matter the nature of the challenge that befalls Jewish Bruins, Hillel offers guidance, support and representation - and we are an organizing institution for the unity and strength of the Jewish Bruin community.  

Presently there is no specific advocacy for you to move ahead with, however, your charitable support and words of encouragement to the students and Hillel staff are always appreciated. As soon as we get more complete information about what's happening at UCLA, we will provide you with additional ideas on how you can take action.  It is truly comforting to know that, when the time comes, we can count on you to show up.   

Bearing witness to the ever-devolving national campus climate (on social media and the news) is understandably triggering for many of us. It would be impossible to control or respond to everyone and everything that we see. Just as Hillel advises our students, we also encourage you to make space to take care of yourself in the face of these distressing events - and encourage anyone who is motivated to support Hillel and our students, on whatever campus they are called to, in the ways we always do. 

Though Hillel is currently in a defensive position, our offensive game is solid. We will never stop our proactive approach to cultivating the best possible Jewish life at UCLA, including efforts to forge connections with other communities on campus, even when a crisis threatens to distract and derail. Hillel is anchored by our core commitment to create a Jewish campus life that celebrates our love of Israel and stokes the flame of Jewish joy. This week of Passover has been punctuated by scary scenes on campuses across the nation, yet there were countless lesser-told stories of vibrant, inclusive, celebratory Seders, holiday meals, enriching gatherings and Jewish leadership.  

We are incredibly preoccupied with the immediate needs of our campus community, however your thoughts, questions and feedback are always welcome.  We will do our best to respond and thank you, in advance, for your patience and support. 

Thank you and Chag Sameach,

Dan Gold
Executive Director

Hillel at UCLA Statement: March 21, 2024

This week, UCLA was bustling with activity related to the UC Regents’ Quarterly Meeting (which was held on campus).  While Finals Week is typically quiet, the Regents’ meeting drew many kinds of activists out of the woodwork and onto our public campus spaces.  Among them, UC Divest and other BDS activists camped out, installing ugly displays and slogans.  This has become routine…yet we can not accept it as normal!

In rejection of normalizing antisemitism, the Regents took time at their meetings to validate our Jewish community’s many comments and reports of discrimination.  Beyond words, the Regents were addressed by UC President Drake who shared the news that, effective this spring, all 10 UCs will join Hillel International’s Campus Climate Initiative - a program UCLA already began at the start of this year.  

This is a welcome and necessary step to better address campus antisemitism and take meaningful action to ensure our campuses are free of hate and fully accepting and inclusionary for all Jewish students, faculty and community members.  The full press release for this action is shared below. 

Wishing you a celebratory Purim and restful time off for those blessed with a spring break.

Dan Gold
Executive Director


UC President Drake announces UC-system-wide participation in Hillel International’s Campus Climate Initiative to Combat Antisemitism on Campus

Campus administrators, alongside Hillel professionals, continue their shared efforts to counter antisemitism and create an inclusive and safe environment for Jewish students at UCLA through their work with the Campus Climate Initiative.

LOS ANGELES As Jewish college students across the United States and Canada experience an unprecedented rise in antisemitism following the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, University of California President Michael V. Drake, M.D., announced (in the March 20 Board of Regents meeting) that all UC schools will participate in Hillel International’s flagship Campus Climate Initiative (CCI) program.  

University of California, Los Angeles, is among four UC campuses which started this program in the summer of 2023.  They will be joined by the remaining 10 University of California campuses in the spring of 2024.  

A unique effort to strengthen ties among university leaders, Hillel at UCLA, and Hillel International, CCI provides tools to address the challenge of antisemitism on campus and to ensure a safe climate for Jewish Bruins where they can feel greater confidence and safety while expressing their identity and values. 

Senior members of the Hillel at UCLA team, including Dan Gold, Executive Director and Rachael Petru, Chief Development Officer, serve as partners for campus administration toward the shared goal of a safe and vibrant campus community for Jewish students.

With the addition of the largest group of participants to date, a total of more than 75 schools across the United States and Canada are now participating in this landmark Hillel program, which launched in 2020. By enrolling in CCI, participants express a commitment to working closely with Hillel International and their campus Hillels to improve the climate for Jewish students on their campus. 

The CCI program combines education about Jewish student identity and contemporary antisemitism with rigorous campus data collection and action planning to help higher education administrators and professionals lead their campuses to become more genuinely inclusive of Jewish students’ needs. In a moment when UCLA’s long-standing commitments to creating welcoming campus environments for all students have fallen short, this project integrates Jewish students and Hillel professionals into broader university efforts to combat bias and discrimination. 

Since October 7, Hillel International has tracked more than 1,100 incidents of antisemitism on college campuses – a nearly 10-fold increase compared to the same period last year. Additionally, a recent poll released by Hillel finds that 57% of Jewish students are not satisfied with the response of their campus administration to acts of violence and hate on campus, up from 50% in October. 

More information about CCI and participating universities can be found on the website.



Hillel at UCLA Statement: February 21, 2024

On Monday, we shared that the UCLA Undergraduate Student Associated Council (USAC) would be entertaining a hateful resolution to demand for BDS at UCLA on Tuesday evening.  Despite our community’s extensive efforts to educate, advocate and advise against passing this resolution (CLICK HERE to view our letter which was signed by almost 200 students, read by brave Jewish students at the USAC meeting, and which was distributed widely on various digital platforms), we are deeply disappointed to report that the resolution passed.  

Last night’s vote comes on the heels of the passing of the Graduate Student Association’s own BDS resolution that similarly aims to divide our campus and hold Israel and the Jewish community to a double standard.

To confront the deterioration of campus climate at UCLA, the Jewish Bruin Community needs our support! 

A resolution in favor of BDS at UCLA has no impact on the actual policies of UCLA, which has long asserted that they, in no uncertain terms, will not boycott, divest from, or sanction the State of Israel. Following each student government vote, UCLA administration reaffirmed these votes are non-binding, have no consequence and that the university rejects BDS against Israel (you can view the statements here and here)

Indeed, passing this resolution serves to promote a distorted, overly simplistic reality that, for all intents and purposes, displaces Jews from participating in critical conversations about Israel’s right to self determination by promoting “non-normalization,” the policy of prohibiting engagement with Zionists.  

Our Hillel continues to offer support to all students impacted by this decision in the form of processing groups, free access to food/space to be in community, education, advocacy guidance and access to mental health resources.  

Though the passing of BDS is not a reflection of the opinion of all students, faculty or administration, it highlights a larger problem about the rot of antisemitism that exists at UCLA. Students, who are represented by student leaders, are facing the terrible truth that their electeds prefer to prioritize exclusionary resolutions that promote hatred and bias, rather than focus on mechanisms to empower all students and promote campus healing. 


“The BDS movement intentionally manipulates our history to turn people against Israel’s existence and the Jewish people’s right to self-determination…BDS supporters on this campus have gotten away with their strategy of non-normalization towards Zionists and Jews. It is a destructive violation of our community, not to mention a clear form of discrimination.

We will not be marginalized. And we will continue to stand up against all forms of hate including the BDS movement.”

Thank you for standing by Hillel’s side in our community’s time of tumult.  Your charitable donations and moral support mean more than you can imagine.  Hillel at UCLA is not an official on-campus organization and receives zero funding from UCLA.  Over 50% of Hillel At UCLA‘s budget comes from individual donors like you. To join our community of benefactors, click here or contact Rachael Petru to learn more.
(310) 208-3081
574 Hilgard Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Federal Tax ID #46-0573247




Hillel at UCLA Statement: February 19, 2024

Today, campus is closed (for Presidents Day) and, as is the case with most long weekends, many students have left Westwood.  It’s a moment of situational quiet, but for those of us leading the Jewish Bruin community, we are painfully aware that we are in the eye of a storm. 

After the shock and exhaustion of Fall Quarter (and the deterioration of campus climate for Jewish students), we returned from winter break to reprieve.  In the first weeks of the Winter Quarter, Jewish students enjoyed the ability to walk about campus without being confronted with intrusive anti-Zionist marches and misinformed accusations that repetitively exposed terrifyingly familiar, generations-old antisemitic tropes.  

Disappointingly, that period of calm has expired, and it is certainly no surprise. In the past few weeks, the Jewish Bruin community has been subjected to:

  • Daily Bruin articles and headlines with obvious antisemitic tropes around money and corruption
  • Bullying and intimidation at the faculty level
  • Open, uninhibited antisemitism being shouted in public rallies and campus marches
  • Anti-Zionist vandalism on prominent campus buildings and walkways
  • A forthcoming student government motion to demand that UCLA boycott, divest from, and sanction against Israel (BDS) happening tomorrow

The anti-Zionist hate movement continues to push their dangerous activism on every level of our campus environment.  We see antisemitism within the inflammatory demonstrations, the hate speech, brazenly destructive tactics, the academic intimidation, the student discrimination and even the institutional bias.

All the while, Jewish Bruin students continue to inspire through their leadership and commitment to Israel and Jewish peoplehood. Though, as Jews, they feel more isolated on campus than ever before, their sense of comfort comes from being there for one another in the context of Jewish community.  Examples of resilience include:

  • Hillel students penning opinion pieces to call attention to the presence of antisemitism and bias in the Daily Bruin
  • Attending free lunches and safe spaces at our Hillel home as a mechanism of avoiding the hostile and emotionally triggering on-campus anti-Zionist marches
  • Planning thoughtful, multi-tiered responses to the student government BDS motion
  • Accessing mental health and wellness programs and services to help mitigate the cumulative impact of this stressful time
  • Coming together each week for Hillel programs such as Shabbat, Jewish learning, challah baking, Bruins for Israel events, and more.

With each obstacle - and with every incident - our students have rallied, strategized, found common ground, responded and have stood stronger than ever.

And you have been there for them, too.  Hillel at UCLA is not an official on-campus organization and receives zero funding from UCLA.  Over 50% of Hillel at UCLA‘s budget comes from individual donors and we are abundantly grateful that people like you make charitable gifts to sustain our student engagement work.  To contribute to our campaign to boost support, and bring light for students during these dark campus days, we invite you to support the Campus Climate Crisis Fund.

And stay tuned for more - we will continue to update you on our challenges and our achievements as the school year progresses.  

Hillel at UCLA Statement: November 17, 2023

Last week, a disturbing video circulated on social media, showing individuals on campus beating on pinatas with the images of Israel and American elected officials.  These unapologetic public displays of hostility only deepen a sense of vulnerability for so many Jewish Bruins.  In case you have not yet seen it, we are linking a statement that was made by UC President Drake, and a lead-up statement made by UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, on Friday November 17th.  While we know these are only words, we look forward to seeing a move into an actionable stage. 

On Monday, November 13th, we co-hosted an in-person panel event featuring three Hillel student leaders in conversation with Jodi Rudoren, the Editor in Chief of The Forward.  Though we weren’t able to have the program broadcast or professionally recorded, we offer you this rudimentary recording as a mechanism to hear, directly from the students, how they are doing, what it is like to be on campus since October 7th, and what type of support they need from you at this moment

On Tuesday we live-streamed the March for Israel in Washington, DC in our building.  Even from afar, we were enlivened by the solidarity of our people.  Thanks to the generosity of an angel benefactor, a 12-person UCLA delegation of our most active student leaders was able to travel to DC to join (and be nourished by) this historic event.  Later that day, Hillel hosted a group of UC Regents for a conversation/listening tour of Jewish students.  Six Jewish Bruin students bravely and honestly shared the ways in which their campus experience has been challenged in the face of unchecked anti-Zionism and antisemitism.  

On Wednesday, UC Regent Chair, Rich Lieb, made a powerful public statement to the Regents, directing Chancellors throughout the UCs to enforce rules for holding to account blatant violations of Jewish students’ rights.  We thank the Regents for calling attention to this serious matter and applaud the Chair’s insistence that this issue be handled with urgency!  To view his remarks CLICK HERE (at the 53 minute mark). A subsequent response from UC President Michael Drake announced new systemwide efforts focused on campus safety, civil rights, community education and employee training — several of which focus squarely on curbing anti-Jewish hatred.

Today (Friday) UCLA Hillel students will be attending the annual Rivalry Shabbat, hosted this year at USC.  While the long-standing competition between these cross-town rivals is fully intact, it is tempered by that which our Jewish students share in common.  

In the coming weeks (starting with Giving Tuesday, on November 28th) we’ll be launching our End of 2023 Fundraising Campaign, where the impact of all new gifts will be doubled by a matching grant challenge.  As we shift gears, we offer our most heartfelt thanks to everyone who has supported us since October 7th, enabling Hillel to keep up with student needs and extra-budgetary organizational demands.  Your ongoing investment in our Jewish Bruin community, in times of emergency and in times of calm, is critical to our success.  

**Important note: Hillel staff are overwhelmed by the hundreds of phone calls and emails from concerned community members who want to be sure we are aware of what’s happening on campus (we are) and that we are doing something to help (thank you).  We appreciate your understanding that our staffs’ bandwidth is limited and devoted, primarily, to supporting the students as they navigate campus at this moment of acute vulnerability. While you may not hear back from us, we want you to know that we are continuing to flex our relationships with campus influencers/policy makers and are making headway in holding to account antisemitism when it rears its hideous head.  As ever, campus climate is a top priority.**

Hillel at UCLA Statement: November 8, 2023

Today’s campus climate update is heavy and we invite you to take a few deep breaths as you read about how this week is going at UCLA.

After weeks of organizing, Jewish Bruin students planned and executed a flawless and powerful Rally for Israel: #NoHostageLeftBehind on the 30-day anniversary of the Simchat Torah massacre.  With the greatest consideration, they staged an “Empty Shabbat Table” with a seat for every hostage who remains captive as well as a haunting display of blue and white balloons flying from empty strollers for the child hostages.  


The 700-person crowd waved flags and adorned posters of the hostages.  Our refrain: Bring Them Home Now.  Campus Rabbis led us in prayer for the protection of the state of Israel, for the return of the hostages and for the souls of those who were brutally murdered.  Students, alongside State Assemblymember Rick Zbur and UCLA alumna and acclaimed actor, Mayim Bialik, delivered rousing remarks condemning antisemitism and calling for campus administration to take action to condemn and stop the hateful campus vitriol that has been boiling over in the past weeks. 

We marched around campus, feeling a sense of camaraderie and closeness, a much needed moment of unity in a time when we are otherwise feeling so vulnerable and exposed.Thankfully, there were no organized counter-protests.

However, within an hour of the rally, some of the ugliest antisemitic social media posts were made, aimed at sparking fear of Jews on campus.  And word began to circulate that the coming days on campus would, again, be punctuated by loud and insistent anti-Zionist actions.  Today we heard chanting from the UC Divest action on campus and tomorrow we are bracing for another organized walk-out style demonstration they have titled "Shut It Down."

Indeed, the pressure is intense - and Hillel’s work to support students is as important as ever (as is your support to make it happen).  We remain grateful to everyone who has made a donation to support our Bruins for Israel Crisis Fund.  If you are inclined to participate, we will gratefully use your gift to provide for the students' needs as they are ever-evolving. 

We are proud to report that Hillel at UCLA Executive Director, Dan Gold, was nominated by his Hillel colleagues to represent the Hillel Directors and the 10,000s of Jewish students on campus throughout the state to be part of a few conversations with our California elected officials.  Earlier this week, Dan joined the CA Legislative Jewish Caucus to plan a strategy for possible legislative action.  Yesterday, he was on a call (alongside a small group of representatives from the Jewish world) with Gov. Newsom wherein Dan encouraged him to take immediate action to respond to the rise of anti-Jewish hate on our campus. See JPAC’s X (Twitter) post about it, here.

Thank you, as always, for your care and concern.  If you’re local to Los Angeles, don’t forget to come to Hillel on Monday, November 13th for an in-person event: “Being Jewish on Campus Since October 7th.”  CLICK HERE to learn more and register.

P.S. In case you missed our previous statements, click here to view them.

Hillel at UCLA Statement: Oct 27, 2023

Yesterday and today Hillel at UCLA has been flooded with emails and phone calls from constituents and stakeholders from every corner of our community.  Already on edge, our community is responding to a social media post that captured the hateful rhetoric being chanted during the October 25th “Walk Out for Gaza” rally at UCLA.  While many social media posts misquoted the chant as “we want Jewish genocide” the actual rhetoric and language against Israel and Jews were equally unacceptable — “we charge you with genocide”.

We know that this was triggering and no matter the specific words used, the anti-Jewish messages are undeniable.  While we rarely do so, today we are compelled to issue the statement below. 

Thank you for being with us in our time of campus strife.

Dan Gold
Executive Director
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Chair

Hillel at UCLA stands in support of every Jewish Bruin and all the Jewish students, faculty, and allied students and faculty at UCLA who remain horrified at the terror attack on October 7th and condemn Hamas’ massacre in the strongest possible terms. We mourn deeply for the 1400 innocent lives taken in the most barbaric ways, and we demand the over 220 children, women, men and elderly hostages be returned now. 

We are equally disturbed that faculty and students at UCLA continue to refuse to condemn this attack, and worse, have taken to public forums and to campus to defend it or even celebrate it.  Make no mistake, the rhetoric that we have heard at the many anti-Zionist, anti-Israel rallies and sessions over the last few weeks is antisemitic and wrong. We 100% reject it and we refuse to normalize it.

We know the Jewish Bruin community - current students, faculty, parents and alumni - are outraged and scared.  We know that this inflamed environment on campus and this antisemitic rhetoric is a direct attack on our identity as Jews.  It’s done to intimidate us and, worse, is done to divide and weaken us. 

Therefore, our response has been - and will continue to be - to show our strength. There has been programming, and prayer; learning and loving; and debate and demonstrations that have happened every day at our Hillel and throughout campus. 

With each passing demonstration, hateful rhetoric points further and further toward the greatest fears of our Jewish people. While we acknowledge and appreciate the First Amendment protections, upheld by the university, we strongly believe there is a conscientious obligation to state and take appropriate action over what is immoral. 

We are directly engaged with UCLA administration. We know our voices are being heard and we know that we have their support. Yet, after these most recent public events on campus have continued with the same hateful behavior, our message is clear and direct: it is unequivocally wrong to fan the flames of antisemitism, it is wrong to intentionally make Jews feel unsafe or unwelcome, and it is wrong to suggest Israel should not exist.

To our allies: now is the time we need to hear your voices. Now is the time to help us provide moral clarity in our community. Now is “never again.”

To the supportive community outside of campus: we hear your voices and we feel your support. We thank you for reminding us that we are not alone. While our lived experience on campus and the specifics of everything that happens here is sometimes distorted or misreported through social media that doesn’t change what we know to be antisemitic and anti-Jewish hate. 

Please continue to have faith in our incredible and resilient Jewish student leaders. They are working through every issue, reaching out to bring every corner of our community together, and they are showing up every hour of every day to lead by example. We invite you to continue to show your support by sharing this story and by joining our Jewish Bruins at UCLA on November 7th on campus where we will mark one month since this nightmare attack. We will join to honor the lives lost, demand the hostages’ return home and show our UCLA community and beyond that we are strong, we are united, and we are not going to be intimidated.

Hillel at UCLA Statement: Oct 26, 2023

We’re committed to keeping you updated on UCLA campus life and how Jewish students are doing as events continue to unfold. Assessing communal needs and meeting them is at the center of our focus.   

Wednesday brought to campuses around the country (including UCLA) another aggressive form of anti-Israel protest: the walkout (masses of students leaving class in coordinated form and gathering for on-campus protest).  These are painful times - our students continue to be confronted by vitriolic campaigns that promote the SJP’s victimhood agenda, targeted chants, blaming Israeli victims for their fate and vehemently denying a future two-state solution. Between the constant disruption and the hateful rhetoric (in-person on campus and in media), students are understandably stretched thin. 

On a promising note, UCLA was aware of and prepared for the walkout.  Campus was full with UC police and other security and Hillel staff were on site, alongside UCLA administrative partners, to bear witness, bring comfort and give guidance to Jewish students.  At our building, we have doubled our commitment to physical security - read to the end for more information.

Hillel is here to support all Jewish students in a myriad ways - and it has never been as important as in the past few weeks.  We are restoring students’ sense of safety and agency.  Below are a few of the programmatic ways that we’ve been taking care of our Jewish Bruin family in the past week:

    1. Building stronger connections between students and faculty:  When students shared how exposed they felt in the classroom, not knowing which professors would relate to them with compassion and which might act punitively toward them for being Jewish or supporting Israel, we responded by inviting professors and students to “speed network” with each other at Hillel.  More than 100 students and faculty have participated in two mixer/organizer convenings and we are on a path to building out this new project. 
    2. Celebrating and empowering leadership:  An annual event tradition, the Bruin Leadership Dinner has taken on new urgency and importance in this time of crisis.  Taking place in early November, our student leaders have secured the attendance of three powerful California elected officials; Congressman Ted Lieu, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel and Assembly Majority Leader Issac Bryan.  When a room full of influential students pairs with leaders of this caliber (and who have the Jewish community's back), we reconnect to our potential and power.
    3. Marking the anniversary of the Simchat Torah Massacre: With an eye on the one month anniversary of the massacre, our Hillel community is preparing for a large-scale convening of 1300+ people on campus to keep the names of the hostages in our hearts and stand in solidarity. We hope you will join us, save the date for November 7th in the middle of the day on campus (more details to follow).
    4. Nurturing the heart of Judaism: Hillel continues to provide “regularly scheduled” programming ranging from Shabbat programming, Learning Fellowships, pastoral care, community service and challah baking.  

Earlier this week our Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Chair, Executive Director, Dan Gold, published an OpEd in eJewishPhilanthropy which calls on communities to continue gathering, sharing our stories and telling our truth.  He underscores a collective call to action, one in which we must all play a part during the days and months to come. Click here to read it.   

Thank you to everyone who has made a charitable contribution to Hillel in the past couple of weeks. Here are some ways that your investment in our community is at work:

  • Doubling security presence by ensuring that an armed security guard is on site whenever the building is open to the student public, as well as sending security to protect offsite Hillel programs. When needed, we are hiring two security guards, and UC Police also visit Hillel on rotation to keep us protected.
  • Maintaining and expanding critical security infrastructure around the building.
  • Increasing access to mental health services including individual therapy, pastoral care and group processing spaces.
  • Sending influential students to receive expert training to create their own online social media content.
  • Launching new initiatives that bridge students, faculty and administration to each other, paving the path for a stronger and more positive campus climate for Jewish students.

We will not be repressed.  Will will continue to show up. Am Yisrael Chai.

Hillel at UCLA Statement: Oct 18, 2023

Last week was a rollercoaster for our Jewish Bruin community and most especially for our Jewish students.  Surrounded by around 500 fellow Bruins, we grieved together at our Bruin Plaza Vigil and were nourished by the power of community.  We will never forget those whose lives were taken in a brutal act of terrorism and we will continue to say the names of those who are missing and held hostage.

Difficult days on campus followed. On Thursday, what started as a pro-Palestinian rally, became an intrusive and aggressive march through campus, stoking feelings of insecurity among Jewish students.  Simultaneously, a national “day of rage” was promoted widely on social media for Friday and many Jewish students were left to worry for their physical safety.  

At Hillel, we knew coming to Friday night Shabbat services and dinner would be medicine for the soul. We encouraged students to join us for Shabbat with assurances that their safety was our foremost concern. Hillel organized walking groups from campus to Hillel so no student would feel isolated during this uncertain time. Hillel hired extra security and stayed in close contact with campus police and the LA Jewish Federation’s Community Security Initiative (which works directly with the FBI). Despite the lack of any credible threat, we were on edge.

Shabbat began with soulful prayer and culminated with a room filled with hundreds of Jewish students and allies breaking bread together for dinner. The presence and participation of more than a handful of UCLA administrators was an irrefutable display of solidarity.  Even Chancellor Block, Jewish himself, took the extra effort to spend Shabbat with our Jewish Bruin community in this moment of collective vulnerability.  Despite how exposed and scared we felt, we did not let it come in the way of gathering and we will not let anything stand in our way of feeling Jewish pride and togetherness. 

Chancellor Block offered a second statement further condemning terrorism and showing support for our Jewish students on Friday.

Israel needs us right now and supporting Israel and Israelis is the most important thing we can do (see links below).   At the same time, Hillel at UCLA needs you in this moment of intense campus volatility.  We are deepening our investment in security, working overtime to provide pastoral and mental health care, offering essential programming and bringing in experts on the topics that matter most right now. We invite you to help make sure Hillel at UCLA has what it needs to do all this and more for our Jewish students in this most vital moment. Click here to support the Bruins for Israel fund.

Hillel at UCLA Statement: Oct 13, 2023

Earlier in the week we connected with you to share the “state of Jewish Bruin Life,” and today we are inviting you to learn more about how our week progressed. Scroll down to see our initial message. 

This has been a week full of heartache and corresponding communal support. On Wednesday night, nearly 500 members of the Bruin community gathered on Bruin Plaza for a “Vigil for Israel” that was organized by students, backed by UCLA administration, protected by UCPD and spearheaded and sponsored by Hillel at UCLA in collaboration with other campus Jewish organizations. We grieved and held each other up despite impossible heaviness. We came together united.

On Thursday our community was confronted by a “national day of resistance” in which students gathered on campus to protest Israel.  This demonstration, which began in one central location and then morphed into a march through campus, served as an affront to many Jewish students who are already feeling exposed and vulnerable, particularly in light of widespread social media claims that Friday would be a "day of rage".  The impact of psychological warfare may be invisible to the bare eye, however, it is deeply felt and is difficult to rebound from.   

We have increased our security at Hillel in several ways and are staying up to date by the hour on any new developments. We are in close contact with members of UCLA administration who are acting as partners to our community in our time of need (including by meeting Jewish Bruins on campus to walk alongside them on their way to Shabbat dinner at Hillel tonight).  We are sharing and reiterating connections for mental health support offered by Hillel, campus and other partners.  While you may not hear the details (and you may hear other bits of information and rumors), please be assured that we are leaning into these close connections at this uncertain and delicate time.  

Safe spaces, services, vigils and rallies in support of Israel and mourning the victims help Jewish students (and allies) feel understood and embraced by the community. Hillel is at the helm of organizing all of this.  Among many other things, we are coordinating Jewish faculty on campus. Their involvement is a demonstration of their own personal need for community and their determination to show up for students now and in the future. 

As a public institution, UCLA is barred by the Constitution from prohibiting expression based on the viewpoint of the speaker or content of the speech. Members of the Hillel community have direct ties to UCLA administrators to support them in upholding a campus climate which does not tolerate antisemitism, and we are using them. Many of you want to know how you can help.  Again, we invite you to please join Hillel and our students by focusing our attention and energy on showing up for the Jewish community and stay in touch with UCLA Hillel for more opportunities to strengthen the Jewish Bruin community.  While we and the University cannot always stop some of the hate expressed in our campus, all of us CAN show up for students who are afraid, exposed and in need of context and community.  

Am Israel Chai

Hillel at UCLA Statement: Oct 10, 2023

As a member of the UCLA Hillel community, you know that campus is, historically, a hotbed for proxy war activity in times of crisis in Israel.  In addition to your worry about the most vulnerable people in Israel, you’re probably also wondering about how students at UCLA are faring - to that end, we are sending this message with important information about the state of our Jewish Bruins in light of the war in Israel.  

The last few days have been tragic for the Jewish people, Israel and our community as we continue to learn the horrific details of the massacre that left so many innocent dead, kidnapped or injured. On Saturday morning, we awoke to the unsettling and shocking news and, in the blink of an eye, our weekend plans for celebrating Shabbat and Simchat Torah were reconfigured to make space for the emotional and physical needs of our Jewish Bruin community.  

Our Jewish Bruin community is in a state of deep collective concern and Hillel is working overtime to understand and provide for our students’ needs.  Presently this looks like:

  • Hiring extra armed security as a measure of abundant caution and to ease feelings of exposure and vulnerability among students and staff.
  • Organizing meetings of Jewish students representing the broadest swath of identities and affinities to learn more about how students are feeling and how we can adapt programming as needs become known and evolve.
  • Hosting a range of programs (at Hillel and on campus) to provide comfort, education, companionship and opportunities for activism.  Highlights include “safe spaces” at Hillel for communal processing, Lunch and Learns with rabbis and professors, Shabbat prayer circle, and multiple vigils (including one that you can attend on Wednesday, October 11th at 7pm on Bruin Plaza).
  • Referring students to resources to support mental health needs in a particularly stressful time (pastoral care, peer counsel and private therapy through the Ezra Network).

While we can't predict everything that will happen in the coming days/months, we are vigilant and prepared for a wide range of eventualities.  At the time of writing this message, campus is relatively calm.  Hillel will continue to work in tandem with organizational partners to monitor the possibility of security threats or anti-Israel campus activity, and support the students, come what may. Should campus climate become hostile for Jewish students, Hillel will be (and has always been) an unwavering source of support for Jewish Bruins, hosting educational programs, communal gatherings, leveraging community resources and guiding students as they engage campus administration and advocating for their right to education free of intimidation.  

We know that some of you are eager to do something to help…and we are learning ways to get much needed support to the people of Israel (see below for links).  At a local level, we invite you, our Hillel family, to join us in supporting the Jewish Bruin community as we face this emergency.  Providing this extra level of communal care is Hillel’s honor…we are going beyond our budget to provide extra food, space and security.  Your generous donation to the UCLA Hillel Bruins for Israel Fund will support programs and associated costs - please give today so that we can fully fund and support every effort they seek to strengthen our Jewish people and soothe our concern for Israel.

Last night, Chancellor Gene Block issued a message regarding recent violent attacks abroad and shared a statement from UC President Michael Drake and UC Board of Regents Chair Richard Leib.  To read the statement, click here. (REVISED: click here to read an additional statement provided on Fri. Oct 13th.)

Thank you for aligning with our Jewish Bruin community every day and especially in our more challenging moments.

Am Israel Chai,

Naomi Hochman
President, Board of Directors

Dan Gold
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Chair, Executive Director

P.S. Here are the Los Angeles-based funds that are directly supporting Israelis in need:

(310) 208-3081 | 574 Hilgard Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90024 | EIN #46-0573247

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