As antisemitism is on the rise in the United States, including on university campuses, American Jews' sense of safety has been seriously harmed. But many, refuse to live in fear and to stand by. They decide to take action, to fight against antisemitism and to proudly showcase their Judaism. Michigan State University (MSU) student, Maddy Gun, was recently praised for the way she handled an antisemitic incident, as reported by WILX10, a local television station in Michigan. Last September, Gun came back to her apartment and saw that the mezuzah she had hanged on her door had been ripped off and stolen. After asking her apartment manager to check the video footage to identify the perpetrator, she filed a police report. However, when the police identified an MSU male student as the suspect, she decided to teach him a lesson instead of pressing charges. Gun sat down with him, as well as with MSU Chabad Rabbi Benzion Shemtov and Hillel director Cindy Hughey, and asked if he would be willing to take a guided tour of the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington, which he agreed to. "Meeting face-to-face with the perpetrator, I told him how his actions had not only impacted me but also the greater Jewish community at MSU, as someone else in my apartment building took their mezuzah down out of fear," Gun wrote in TheJewishNews."My hope is that through this process, he understands the impact and hurt his actions caused," said Gun.As a result of the visit, the suspect paid for the vandalized and stolen mezuzah. Gun said that she was inspired by her grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, who taught her to never be a bystander. In TheJewishNews, she wrote that "to this day, my grandfather speaks about his story of survival in order to educate others. Through his story, I’ve learned the value of standing up for my beliefs as well as the importance of education"."My grandfather always ends his speech by saying, “You cannot be a bystander.” These words have resonated with me, and after experiencing blatant antisemitism on campus, I knew I could not just be a bystander"," she added.She shared her experience at a in Los Angeles with over 550 college and high school students attending. The conference aimed at teaching students how to fight antisemitism. Today, she is even more proud to showcase her Judaism, and she has inspired others to stand up for their belief and speak out. At the same conference, others shared their story on how they stand up and fight antisemitism. Two high school students who attended the conference launched the Instagram campaign “Why I Wear My Star” two days after the Chabad of Poway shooting. On the Instagram account, people share their "stories of Jewish pride." It currently has over 90 posts and more than 2,000 followers.
View this post on InstagramI wear my star for those who can't or are scared to. I wear my star to show how proud I am to be Jewish and to be able to start a conversation about what it is like to be a Jew or what it means to be a Jew. The Jewish people have faced persecution throughout all of history which makes it even more important for someone like me, in America, where we have freedom of religion, to show the world that I am a Jew and that will never change. #whyiwearmystar Stephanie Margolis (@flowergirl379) from Massachusetts. Telling stories of Jewish pride and persistence in the midst of hate. Owned by @abby.adams & @sammygabbai. Share a pic using #whyiwearmystar, tag, or DM us to share your story. ✡️