Statement from The Orthodox Union and the Orthodox Union-Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus

21 Apr 2024

This morning, the following guidance was shared with the students in our JLIC and Yavneh programs by Rabbi Elie Buechler of OU-JLIC at Columbia Barnard:

Dear Yavneh,

What we are witnessing in and around campus is terrible and tragic. The events of the last few days, especially last night, have made it clear that Columbia University’s Public Safety and the NYPD cannot guarantee Jewish students’ safety in the face of extreme antisemitism and anarchy.

It deeply pains me to say that I would strongly recommend you return home as soon as possible and remain home until the reality in and around campus has dramatically improved.

It is not our job as Jews to ensure our own safety on campus. No one should have to endure this level of hatred, let alone at school.

If you need assistance please reach out to me.

May we see better days on campus soon.

Chag Kasher vSameach*,
Rav Elie Buechler
Director OU-JLIC at Columbia/Barnard

We completely and totally stand behind Rabbi Buechler’s message. The anarchy inside and outside Columbia’s campus is disturbing, disorienting, and frightening for all of us to witness, but it has been downright dangerous for the Jewish students experiencing it. While OU-JLIC – like our campus partners in Hillel and Chabad – will continue to steadfastly support Jewish students on campus, we do not believe that it is the responsibility of the Jewish students either at Columbia or elsewhere to be heroes. As Rabbi Buechler wrote, “no one should have to endure this level of hatred, let alone at school.” They deserve to celebrate the festival of freedom without the intense stress and fear that defines the current environment at Columbia.

We have shared Rabbi Buechler’s message with those at the White House, Congress, the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Education, with whom we have been in ongoing contact about the deteriorating situation on campus. The fact that Jewish students must seek refuge from their university campus is shameful evidence of the failure of the university and every level of government to effectively address the growing horror of domestic antisemitism.
We call upon leadership at all levels to move beyond expressions of dismay to effective actions that will promptly restore safety to our students.

The Orthodox Union (OU) is the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization.

The Orthodox Union’s Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC) helps young men and women thrive and observe key aspects of Jewish life on university campuses across the United States, Canada and Israel. Yavneh, a division of JLIC, is comprised of a group of passionate and inspired student leaders committed to building and sharing Jewish life on campuses around the world.

*”Chag Kasher Vsameach” is the traditional pre-Passover greeting, wishing everyone a kosher and happy holiday. The celebration of Passover begins on Monday evening, April 22nd.