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Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

‘Our community is our strength’: Newton community rededicates wall of Hamas’ captives after vandalism

Margaux Jubin
A crowd of around 2,000 attendees gather in Newton on Sunday, April 7, 2024, to unveil the “Hostage Wall” that was vandalized in March. (Margaux Jubin/Beacon Staff)

Over 2,000 people gathered at Jeff and Miriam Kosowsky’s house in Newton on Sunday to rededicate their wall of Hamas’ hostages, which was vandalized on March 17. 

The event included arts and crafts, letter writing to Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers and hostage families, music, desserts, and guest speakers. Two of the guest speakers were local legislators Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller and Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA). Both reaffirmed the necessity for solidarity and community in the face of hate. 

“Please know that what happened here at your home was a pure act of hate,” said Fuller. “Today, we are here to support our right to speak freely, to practice our religion and culture openly and safely.”

Dozens of attendees held posters of the hostages that Hamas took captive when they invaded Israel on Oct. 7 of last year. Many expressed their solidarity by raising signs that read, “We stand against hate and antisemitism,” and “We stand with Israel.” 

“We stand together against the surge in anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hate crimes nationally and locally,” said Auchincloss. “We proclaim with one voice that antisemitism and the delegitimization of Israel have no place in our community.”

Rabbi Shalom Ber Prus of Beth Menachem Chabad of Newton attended the event with his wife and young children. He expressed the importance of the community advocating against antisemitism, even in the face of a dramatic rise in hate.

“It’s important to support the community together and speak out against hate. We need to show that we’re strong,” Rabbi Prus said. “I’ve heard many people question whether they should put up a yard sign. They think twice, but that’s giving in to those who are promoting hate. It’s important to stay who we are and be strong and not to give in, and, ultimately, the truth will prevail.” 

During her speech, Fuller warned of the severity and scale of hate Jews are facing in the U.S. 

“It’s real, deep, and it’s pervasive,” she said.

“As the mayor of Newton and as a Jew, I want to say loudly and clearly that hate will not and cannot silence us,” Fuller continued. “Jews represent 2 percent of the population in the United States, and they represent over 50 percent of the religious-based hate incidents in the United States.”

According to the American Jewish Committee (AJC),  93 percent of Jews and 74 percent of U.S. adults surveyed say antisemitism is a “very serious problem” or “somewhat serious problem.”

Event organizer Kosowsky, whose wall of Hamas hostages was vandalized, highlighted concerns about antisemitism and pointed out disparities in the treatment of Jews and Israelis compared to others. 

“Jews and Israelis are held to a double standard in our learning institutions, media, and culture,” he said. 

“This insidious double standard, in turn, creates an environment that enables, or perhaps even encourages events, like the destruction of our hostage wall, or calling for the replacement of Israel from the river to the sea,” Kosowsky continued.

Many people who are empathetic to other minority groups appear “oblivious and tone-deaf to the Jewish community on some of our key issues,” he said.

“When people say ‘hashtag me too,’ but ignore or even deny the livestream rape of Jewish women on Oct. 7, that double standard feels like antisemitism,” he said. “When people reflexively support the rights of national movements and indigenous people all over the world, but question the right of Jews to a tiny state and their indigenous 3000-year-old homeland, that double standard feels like antisemitism.” 

Across the U.S., advocates for the hostages held captive in Gaza have put up posters around their cities, taped to light poles and buildings, public transportation, and on college campuses, many of which have been torn down by anti-Israel protesters. This has sparked outrage and fueled the tensions surrounding the conflict in the Middle East. 

Such widespread acts of hate have impacted Jews nationwide, but especially those with personal connections to the hostages. Ben Spira, a student at Boston University, gave a speech regarding Israeli hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, whom he befriended during a trip to Israel during his senior year of high school. Goldberg-Polin was kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7 from the Nova Music Festival. 

“At my campus, in the public eye, countless hostage posters have been ripped down and torn, and the idea of simply wanting to save innocent victims of terror has somehow become a politicized issue,” said Spira. 

The Kosowskys and Michelle Copelotti rebuilt the wall before the unveiling ceremony. Before the official unveiling, the crowd joined in singing “Acheinu,” a Jewish prayer for those in captivity. Children and local students of all ages each unveiled a hostage’s picture, saying a few words about things the individual enjoys, their age, and where they lived before Hamas captivity. After the unveiling, the crowd united to sing the “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem. 

“Our community is our strength, and especially during hard times, we must come together, stand together, and show one another and the world that we are together and strong,” said Rabbi Marc Baker, CEO and president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), a non-profit organization.

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  • Attendees gather in front of the rededicated “Hostage Wall” on Sunday, April 7, 2024, holding Israeli flags and posters of the hostages held captive by Hamas. (Margaux Jubin/Beacon Staff)

  • Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller speaks at the event on Sunday, April 7, 2024, condemning antisemitism and hate in all forms. (Margaux Jubin/Beacon Staff)

  • A child colors a card on the arts and crafts tables, where attendees can pen letters to soldiers and hostage families. (Margaux Jubin/Beacon Staff)

  • Two event attendees sit in front of the stage with a poster reading, “we stand against hate and antisemitism,” on Sunday, April 7, 2024. (Margaux Jubin/Beacon Staff)

  • Repaired hostage wall lined with photos of Hamas’ captives. (Margaux Jubin/Beacon Staff)

  • A father and a daughter are among the crowd of thousands carrying Israeli flags during the event in Newton on Sunday, April 7, 2024. (Margaux Jubin/Beacon Staff)

  • Congressman Jake Auchincloss delivers a speech in Newton on Sunday, April 7, 2024, expressing solidarity with the Jewish community. (Margaux Jubin/Beacon Staff)

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About the Contributor
Margaux Jubin
Margaux Jubin, Staff Writer
Margaux Jubin is a sophomore journalism major from Los Angeles, California. She is currently a Staff Writer for the Berkeley Beacon. Outside The Beacon, Margaux loves live music, hanging out with friends, and spending time in nature.

Comments (3)

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  • B

    BRYNNA / Apr 11, 2024 at 7:12 pm

    Wonderful article, and important coverage, Margaux. Thank you for this. You captured the need this gathering fulfilled – for comfort, strength and renewal of hope. The statistics you cite about Anti-Jewish hate incidents are sobering, but this event reminds us that we can find a way through these times together.

  • J

    Jordan G / Apr 11, 2024 at 12:55 pm

    The gathering at Jeff and Miriam Kosowsky’s house in Newton was a powerful display of solidarity and resilience in the face of hate. The event’s focus on supporting the hostages taken by Hamas, advocating against antisemitism, and reaffirming the importance of community unity is commendable. The presence of local legislators, the heartfelt speeches, and the rebuilding of the vandalized wall all underscore the unwavering commitment to combatting hate and standing with Israel. It’s crucial to amplify voices like those at this event to combat the rising tide of antisemitism and promote understanding and support for the Jewish community globally.

  • R

    Rebecca Levitsky / Apr 11, 2024 at 12:31 am

    It’s great to see communities coming together to draw attention to the Israelis and Americans still being held in Gaza. As time goes on-more and more are dying. BRING THEM HOME!