May is filled with celebrations and commemorations for Israel both national and religious.
Israel’s 75th anniversary of being a modern state occurred on Israel’s Independence Day on May 14, 2023.
Jerusalem Day is from the evening of Thursday, May 18, 2023, until the evening of Friday, May 19, 2023. This celebrates the reunification of East and West Jerusalem following the Six-Day War of 1967
SHAVUOT is May 25-27, 2023, this year. The holiday of Shavuot celebrates the anniversary of the Jewish people receiving the Torah—the ancient text of history, laws, and values that have shaped Jewish ethics and peoplehood, and continues to inspire the world. Gentiles in modern democracies also have much to be grateful for as the Torah underpins much of our government documents.
While May is full of so much to celebrate, we are also mindful and watchful of the goings on in campus settings around the world. May is a time of commencement and graduation ceremonies for students completing college degrees and moving on to careers or even graduate school. Undergrad students are vacating campuses for their summer breaks, internships, and summer jobs back at home or elsewhere.
But let’s remember that antisemitism does not take a summer break. So, neither does our quest to combat it. Antisemitism is increasing in intensity, and we want to take time to keep tabs on it even among the celebrations of all that Israel and the Jewish people have accomplished and contributed to the world—both historically and in the modern age.
Here is a graphic from the ADL for you to visualize the uptick in antisemitism. Remember, all these numbers are people: personal experiences of victims:
But in the interest of remaining positive and celebratory this week, I want to alert you all to a few bits of good news and progress.
In Canada, Honest Reporting reports Mount Royal University officially distancing itself from a Calgary Peace Prize awarded to Mohammed El-Kurd by an MRU professor named Muhannad Mark Ayyash, Ayyash is also “an outspoken anti-Israel activist, who has falsely accused Israel of practicing “apartheid” against Palestinians and of being a settler-colonialist state.” El-Kurd is a frequent disseminator of virulent anti-Israel disinformation and antisemitic propaganda with nearly 250,000 followers on Facebook and 700,000 followers on Instagram. He also holds correspondent positions at several publications.
Honest Reporting Canada alerted the public who responded with over 1000 complaints to the university expressing opposition to the institution’s involvement in awarding a peace prize to an individual with an extensive history of spreading hateful messages on social media. Mount Royal University has responded to HR’s complaint and the public’s outcry and widespread backlash and has tried to distance and disassociate itself from the award and attempted to downplay the University’s involvement. In the past, the university was intricately involved with this peace prize, but the good news is awareness is raised and the school is actively disassociating with it and its players.
Also, recently I reported on systemic antisemitism ongoing at the CUNY system—the City University of New York. Earlier this month CUNY and the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism held a joint event at the CUNY Queens College campus with CUNY Chancellor Rodriguez, The Hillel leadership, the Jewish Community Relations Council of NY, and local political leadership, sharing their commitment to combat antisemitism and raise awareness during what is Jewish History and Heritage Month. They also started the “Paint the University Blue” campaign. A blue square image to be worn as a pin or posted to social media to symbolize awareness of antisemitism and the commitment to continue fighting it.
For even more good news, YOU can be a part of this effort: Be a part of our Hebrew University Scholarship Program. Engage with us in helping send at least one Christian student from any accredited university with a study abroad program to spend a full semester learning and experiencing Israel, the people, the land, the history, and the modern-day accomplishment and culture.
The best way to combat antisemitism is to allow our next generation, our future leaders, to live the truth and bring it home to their college campuses, their careers, their communities, and their own families and progeny.
Shavua tov. Have a great week.