What Does It Feel Like To Be Jewish on Campus Right Now?

Nine Jewish students, representing a wide range of perspectives, tell us how they've experienced this moment of campus protests surrounding the Israel-Hamas war.

Protests are often a part of life on a college campus. The United States has a long history of student activism, and young people are frequently on the frontlines of movements for social change. Yet for many college students today, the current protests, which first started after October 7 and drastically amplified over the past few weeks as the Israel-Hamas war rages on, are their first time experiencing hands-on what being at the center of a protest really means.

For the students witnessing the protests, participating in the protests (or counter-protests), talking about the protests with friends and in classes, feeling fearful of the protests, feeling empowered by the protests, or simply trying to study for finals while all this happens around them, this moment is not just something to study in text books or pontificate about over coffee and the newspaper. This is their lived realities.

As a publication and online community that aims to highlight and amplify a diversity of young Jewish voices, we wanted to hear directly from people who were living on college campuses during this time.

And so, last week we put out a call on our platform asking students: What does it feel like to be Jewish on campus right now? 

And wow, did we get responses! We anticipated receiving a few essays, and thought we might publish a handful of them. Instead, we received nearly 100 essays, and here, we are sharing nine of those with you. These essays are all written by Jewish students attending colleges in the United States. They represent a really wide range of perspectives and experiences. And we hope you’ll read all of them. Our goal is not to speak for every single student, but rather to allow each student featured here to speak for themselves. Perhaps you’ll see something that resonates for you; perhaps you’ll see something that makes you mad. Ideally, you’ll find something that sparks a moment of self-recognition or understanding where you didn’t expect it.

Read on to hear from nine college students about what it feels like to be Jewish on campus in 2024.

“I am looking for a community, but I do not fit anywhere.” — Molly Greenwold from Newton, MA; Barnard College, Class of 2026

“I have fought for both Zionist and anti-Zionist students to feel safe.” — Irene Raich from Fayetteville, Arkansas; Yale University, Class of 2027

“Living in fear on campus has become a daily battle.” — Kalie Fishman from Farmington Hills, MI; University of Michigan School of Social Work, Class of 2024

“I was arrested on the first night of Passover at the encampment on my college campus.” — Kira Carleton from Brooklyn, NY; NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, Master’s Student, Class of 2025

“Would people treat me differently if they knew I am Israeli?” — Yasmine Abouzaglo from Dallas, TX; Columbia University, Class of 2027

“I am not a Jew with trembling knees.” — Sophie Friedberg from Los Angeles, CA; University of Wisconsin-Madison, Class of 2024

“For the first time since October 7, I don’t feel so powerless.” — Adrien Braun; Trinity College, Class of 2026

“Maybe if I weren’t grieving the massacre of my community, I would feel differently.” — Devorah Klein from Kansas City, MO; University of Kansas, Class of 2024

“Most of the time, I stay silent.” — Gabriela Marquis from Spokane, WA; Gonzaga University, Class of 2024


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