Hofstra student describes antisemitic experiences on campus

When Abelman began as a student at Hofstra University in Long Island, she expected to encounter antisemitism, but she quickly realized that antisemitism was "more insidious" than she had expected.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
September 15, 2019 22:09
2 minute read.
Hofstra University, statue of Thomas Jefferson, in front of Student Center building

Hofstra University, statue of Thomas Jefferson, in front of Student Center building. (photo credit: PAUL BERENDSEN/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

When Leilah Abelman began as a student at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, she expected to encounter antisemitism, but she quickly realized that antisemitism was "alive and more insidious" than she had expected, she wrote in an article for The Hofstra Chronicle.

Her first encounter with antisemitism on campus occurred before she even got to the university. Two girls who were supposed to room with Abelman and her Jewish friend changed rooms after Abelman told them that they were religious Jews.

Later, after telling a professor that she would need to miss class for the Jewish high holidays, the professor responded that she should re-evaluate her religious beliefs. They also told the class to imagine a world without Jews in it.

In another incident, a student compared the Jewish tradition of marrying within the religion to Nazi eugenics and, after approaching the professor mentioned earlier to say how uncomfortable the comments made her feel, she was "essentially told to be less sensitive."

Three days after the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, a professor asked the class to discuss whether the shooter was "truly evil." Many students believed that he wasn't as he was doing what he believed was right. The professor apologized to Abelman personally, but did not raise the issue in class.

"Students left thinking that they had said nothing wrong," wrote Abelman in The Hofstra Chronicle.

One student told Abelman that it was no longer important to learn about the Holocaust since "everyone knows about it already." When Abelman cited a statistic stating that over a third of people in major European cities don't know about Auschwitz, the student replied, "Of course Europeans wouldn’t know about that, the Holocaust is American history."

In yet another incident, a student decided to move out of the dorm Abelman was living in after she said she wouldn't feel comfortable with the student's boyfriend sleeping over, both due to religious beliefs and because she simply wasn't comfortable "sleeping in the same room as a man I barely knew."

Later, Abelman found out that the student had told people about "the crazy Jewish girl she almost had to live with. And can you believe she only wears skirts in front of guys? How ridiculous!"

When Abelman brought up these incidents with administrators and clergy, she was told that there was nothing to be done as the incidents had already occurred and no university rules had been broken.

"I am sick and tired of being ignored by the administration and told by professors and students alike that anti-Semitism isn’t a real problem, or that it’s not as bad as other forms of racism and bigotry plaguing this nation," wrote Abelman in The Hofstra Chronicle. "We as a community must confront this issue now to curb the rise of anti-Semitism, before it’s too late."



"This is rapidly becoming the new normal for visibly Jewish college students," tweeted Bari Weiss, Op-Ed staff editor at The New York Times and author of How to Fight Anti-Semitism, in response to the article.


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