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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Jewish Students Gather to Mourn Lives Lost in Israel

Jewish groups Hillel for Utah and Chabad on Campus hosted a vigil Wednesday night to mourn those who died in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
A+Vigil+held+by+Hillel+for+Utah+and+Chabad+to+mourn+the+lives+lost+in+Israel+this+month+on+Wednesday%2C+Oct.+18%2C+2023+in+Panorama+East+in+the+A.+Ray+Olpin+Union+Building.+%28Courtesy+of+Rabbi+Moshe%29
A Vigil held by Hillel for Utah and Chabad to mourn the lives lost in Israel this month on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023 in Panorama East in the A. Ray Olpin Union Building. (Courtesy of Rabbi Moshe)

About 40 people gathered on the fourth floor of the A. Ray Olpin Union Building Wednesday night to mourn the lives lost in Israel this month. The vigil was hosted by Jewish groups Hillel for Utah and Chabad on Campus.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian Islamic political party, Hamas, launched an attack on Israel, leaving over 1,200 people dead and over 2,800 wounded.

In the days since Israel declared war on Hamas and ordered people living in Gaza to evacuate, over 3,400 people have been killed and 12,500 injured in Gaza. The U.S. State Department currently identifies Hamas as a terrorist group.

The Vigil

Elana Fauth, managing director of Hillel for Utah, said it’s important to have an event like this at the University of Utah because of how small the Jewish community is worldwide.

“Inevitably, that means that a lot of our community either knows people who have been personally affected by these attacks, or know somebody who knows somebody who has been personally affected,” Fauth said in an interview with the Chronicle.

Though Hillel and Chabad were not expecting any retaliation, campus police were made aware of the event and security was present.

U President Taylor Randall was the first speaker at the vigil.

“I want to tell you all thank you for allowing me the opportunity to come to remember victims of terror and to also join together in prayer for peace,” Randall said.

He added antisemitism is a “real threat,” not only to the Jewish community but nationwide.

“It threatens the core values of the university,” he said. “It threatens Utah. It threatens our nation, and we have to take a stand against it.”

On Oct. 11, U leaders made a statement about the situation in Israel and Gaza condemning the violence in the Middle East.

“Many of our students, faculty and staff have family and friends in harm’s way,” the statement read. “As this crisis unfolds, let’s support one another, respect differences of opinion, and uniformly denounce violence and acts of hate.”

Chabad’s Rabbi Moshe Nigri spoke next. He said that the attacks on Israel have made Jewish communities around the world “stronger than ever,” as well as more unified.

Several prayers were recited in Hebrew and English — for Israeli soldiers as well as people wounded or taken hostage by Hamas. There were also traditional prayers read.

“There are some specific prayers in the Jewish tradition that deal with mourning and with healing, so we are going to share some of those prayers with the group,” Fauth said.

Asher Ireland, Hillel Student President, also spoke at the event.

“There are no words in the English language that can adequately convey and represent this tragedy,” he said. “I do not want to recount the horrors. I want to remember each of the victims as they lived, not as they died.”

Ireland said that every time Israel and Hamas have had a conflict in the past several years, “it has ended with disproportionate Palestinian casualties.”

“So when we mourn our own community, we must also remember the innocent civilians on the other side, stuck in the middle of this war and will also pay with their lives,” he said.

Ireland added that in the wake of all that is happening, Hillel for Utah is working to have the U adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, as well as to spread awareness of the Jewish community at the U and to create connections with other on-campus organizations.

“I welcome your support in accomplishing all of these goals,” he said.

[email protected]

@caelrobertsnews

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About the Contributor
Caelan Roberts
Caelan Roberts, News Editor
Cael is double majoring in English and journalism which gives him a chance to fully explore his passion of writing. He loves working at the Chronicle and is excited for the opportunity to edit on the news desk and work with leadership and writers.

Comments (1)

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    Gerald SussmanOct 19, 2023 at 7:44 am

    We were so glad to read that the U has spoken out against Hamas, terrorism and anti-seminism. As grandparents of two students at the U, together we must not allow the world to descend once again into the darkness and hatred of pre-WW2 days. Thank you, President Taylor for your clear statement on this most urgent issue! Also, we were so pleased that Hillel has taken such a strong stand.

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