“For the first time since October 7, I don’t feel so powerless.”

I am proud to be in a community of students unafraid to stand up and peacefully protest for change.

This essay is part of Hey Alma’s series on what it’s like to be a Jewish college student in response to October 7, the 2024 Israel-Hamas war and campus protests. Click here to read the full range of voices.

Today, I proudly hold a cardboard sign that read “Jews for Palestine” in big black letters.

I wear black shorts, a borrowed black pullover, a red keffiyeh on my shoulders, a red bandana around my head and an N95 mask. The phone number of a pro bono lawyer in Connecticut is written in Sharpie on my left arm, just in case.

I crowd in close with about 100 students, faculty members and local social and political advocates in front of the dining hall. We listen to students share their feelings on the war: our feelings of rage, of guilt, of hope. We discuss the history of student activism on our campus. We stand in a painful moment of silence for all the lives lost.

We march, chanting, across the long walk onto the main quad. I notice those watching out of the corner of my eye. Someone yells out their window “DIVEST NOW!” and we cheer. Another yells: “WHY ARE YOU HIDING YOUR FACES, COWARDS!” Funny how I’m out here and they’re up in their dorm.

My film professor appears out of the crowd and tells me he has seven untouched boxes of pizza, and wonders if it would be a good idea to share them. We retrieve the pizza and distribute them amongst the student protestors. They are happy to have non-dining hall food.

I help my peers set up tents for the encampment. I introduce myself to a member of the Connecticut Democratic Socialist party. I shake hands with members of campus security, and thank them for protecting us. I write “Queer Jews For Palestine: Liberation For All” in chalk on the sidewalk. I help hang art and banners with twine. I introduce one of the student speakers to a journalist for the student newspaper and slowly walk away as their conversation becomes an interview. I hand out water bottles and Oreos and sleeping bags to those who will be spending the night.

I walk my friend to their dorm to get a pillow, a blanket and some deodorant before they settle in for the night in a tent, shared with three other people. We scoff at the frat boys who are blaring “The Star Spangled Banner” on loop not even 50 feet away from the encampment. I ask my friend if they think there’s intelligent life beyond this earth, and they say of course. I tell them how proud I am to be on a campus full of students who are unafraid to stand up for what they believe in, and they agree.

As I lay out under the stars on a tarp, I am overcome with an overwhelming amount of pride. Proud to be a Jew, who was taught the importance of tikkun olam, to heal the world. Proud to be queer, to understand the necessity of extending empathy to others and standing in solidarity with all marginalized people. Proud to be in a community of students unafraid to stand up and peacefully protest for change.

For the first time since October 7, I don’t feel so powerless. I have not lost sight of why I’m laying out here. The hard work is only beginning.

— Adrien Braun; Trinity College, Class of 2026


Adrien Braun

Adrien Braun (he/they) is a multifaceted queer artist, performer, and writer. He is currently a junior at Trinity College, and is thrilled to be in collaboration with Hey Alma.

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