A circle of dimly lit candles laid on the Student Union terrace as a small crowd of students, including UConn Hillel and Huskies for Israel members, quietly gathered together Tuesday night to honor victims of terrorism in Israel.
The vigil started around 6:30 p.m. and lasted close to 15 minutes, with an initial Jewish prayer led by first-semester communications major Nathan Schachter. A Christian and secular prayer followed before a moment of silence.
“A lot of people came here to show we care – even when we are 6,000 miles apart,” Algom Ben-Horin, the assistant director of UConn Hillel, said.
Dozens of Israelis have been injured in the last two weeks, with eight Israelis and at least 28 Palestinians being killed, according to Washington Post writers William Booth and Ruth Eglash. The Jerusalem Post also posted an article yesterday stating that an IDF soldier was stabbed during one of four separate incidents across Israel.
“Today we gather here not just to commemorate the dead, but to honor the living and let people know that we are still alive,” Ben-Horin said to a nodding audience, before ending the vigil by singing Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah.”
Having traveled to Israel numerous times while growing up with a Rabbi father, Goodman said one of the events that specifically inspired him to start the vigil was the death of an Israeli friend of someone he knew.
“These people dying over there are part of our generation,” Goodman said. “In America, we are very lucky and we need to appreciate that.
During the vigil, Ben-Horin brought up a story he read about a woman being beaten up by a group of men in Israel, also mentioning how even years after the Holocaust and the abolition of pogroms, Jewish people still had to fight to survive within their own country.
Saying that Hamas’ code asked for the abolishment of Israel, Goodman also said Hamas contributed to what he says is a growing problem of global anti-Semitism.
Seventh-semester English major Michael Jefferson said he was skeptical of there even being an increasing trend of anti-Semitism.
“Why not reach out to the Palestinians on campus and have a joint vigil?” Jefferson asked. “They’ve got thousands of more bodies to bury.”
A BBC report from August 2014 states in reference to Operation Protective Edge, 2014’s Israel-Gaza conflict, that “the overwhelming majority of those killed were Palestinians,” citing 2,104 Palestinian deaths, in comparison to 72 Israeli deaths in the conflict.
Goodman admitted being Jewish naturally inclined him to view events regarding terrorism through a heavily Israeli perspective. He even mentioned his belief that there were a lot of things Israelis could do better too, stating that several radical right-wing demographics in Israel celebrated the pain and sometimes even deaths of Palestinians.
Goodman concluded that he ultimately just wants a future resolution to the conflict for everyone and hopes the younger generations will find a way to stop an age-old fight.
“The only way forward is peace. There’s no reason to kill each other,” Goodman said.
CORRECTIONS (Oct. 22) — The following corrections have been made to this story:
First-semester communications major Nathan Schachter led the prayer, not first-semester pathobiology major Yoshua Goodman.
Two quotes – “A lot of people came here to show we care – even when we are 6,000 miles apart” and “Today we gather here not just to commemorate the dead, but to honor the living and let people know that we are still alive” – were incorrectly attributed to Yoshua Goodman. They should have been attributed to Algom Ben-Horin, the assistant director of UConn Hillel.
The attribution in the paragraph, “During the vigil, Goodman brought up a story he read about a woman being beaten up by a group of men in Israel,” was incorrect. It was Ben-Horin who referred to the story, not Goodman.
The article said the vigil ended with a “final Jewish prayer.” It actually concluded with the singing of Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah” (The Hope).