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

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

The Berkeley Beacon

‘We gather as one Jewish people’: Emerson student organizes vigil to support Israel and Boston’s Jewish community

Naia Driscoll
Yuli Hachmon, a junior media arts production student, delivers her speech to the crowd.

The Parkman Bandstand was soaked in candlelight and saturated by colors of Israeli flags on Wednesday night as Emerson students and Boston community members came together. The vigil united around 100 people to stand in solidarity with Israel and support the Jewish community. 

The vigil was organized by Zoë Ross, heritage chair of the Beta Alpha chapter of Alpha Epsilon Phi, a Jewish sorority on campus. Sarah Kitchner, an intern at the Hillel Council of New England, and Dina Ross, president of Suffolk Hillel, helped Ross arrange the vigil.

“This past weekend, the world experienced the greatest loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust,” Ross said in her opening remarks. “I saw that my country that I spent so much time in and that I love so dearly, was under attack. My heart sank.”

On Saturday, Hamas, an Islamist militant group, crossed the Gaza Strip border and launched a surprise attack that kidnapped and killed more than 1,200 Israelis, according to Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus. Thousands of rockets were also fired into southern and central Israel. 

The Israeli Army has said more than 1,200 Israelis have been killed as of Thursday afternoon, and officials have said at least 100 civilians and soldiers have been taken hostage.  

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the country was “at war” and retaliated with airstrikes on Gaza. The Palestinian Health Ministry has announced that 1,417 Palestinians have been killed, and another 6,268 have been injured in Gaza since Saturday.

Upon arrival, many vigil attendees embraced each other, stood solemnly in silence, and passed on flames from their candles to light others. The vigil began with a collective recitation of ‘Oseh Shalom,’ a Jewish prayer for peace. It translates to: “May God who caused peace to reign in the high heavens, create peace for us and on all Israel.”

Students from Emerson and colleges around the Boston area were invited to speak at the vigil. Many shared the pain they felt after hearing about the attacks and prayed for safety for their family, friends, and loved ones in Israel. 

Yuli Hachmon, a junior media arts production student, shared how the conflict has impacted her, her family, and Boston’s Jewish community.

“Today, your Jewish friends called their friends and family to make sure they were still alive,” Hachmon said. “Today, your Jewish friends are walking on the street with hypervigilance because we know that when something happens to us in Israel, it affects us all.”

Hachmon was born in Israel and is a citizen of the country. Just a few days ago, she was planning to book a flight to Israel to attend her cousin’s wedding. Now, he is fighting on the front lines. 

“I pray we have a wedding to go to in April,” Hachmon said.

Roughly 360,000 reservists have been drafted by the Israeli military to respond to Hamas’ unprecedented attacks, making it one of Israel’s largest mobilizations in history. 

Hachmon also expressed the complexities of the conflict, acknowledging the history of the Israeli government oppressing Palestinian people. Considering this historical context, she said it is not a justification for Hamas’ attacks.

“We must recognize the difference between the Palestinian Liberation Movement and the Hamas terrorist group, and we must recognize the difference between the Israeli government and the innocent Israeli civilians,” Hachmon said. “It is important to note that Palestinians have been and are suffering too. We must have empathy for the civilians on both sides.”

After the speeches concluded, Ross invited the crowd to engage in a moment of silence for Israel and its civilians. Attendees were also encouraged to share the names of loved ones that they were praying for. 

President Jay Bernhardt released a statement on Monday condemning the “deadly terrorist attacks against Israel,” and extended compassion to those lost and members of the Emerson community with friends, family, colleagues, and loved ones in the region.

We may see the world through the lenses of different experiences, but we come together to offer love and comfort to those who grieve,” Bernhardt said in the statement. “Being in thoughtful connection, despite our differences, is what makes Emerson so strong.”

The vigil ended with attendees reciting Israel’s national anthem in Hebrew together. People then hugged each other, consoled one another, and created a Star of David out of candles in the grass.

“Tonight, we gather to mourn, but we also gather to empower,” Ross said. “We gather to send strength to our brothers and sisters in Israel. We gather as one Jewish people, together with our allies.”

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About the Contributor
Sabrina Lam
Sabrina Lam, Staff Writer
Sabrina Lam (she/her) is a sophomore journalism major from Manchester, Connecticut. She is currently a Staff Writer for The Berkeley Beacon. Outside of the Beacon, Sabrina can be found strolling on Newbury St. or reading a book in The Boston Public Garden.

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