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Community Alert: College Campus Climate Update

The events of the last few days on college campuses are simply disturbing. Our Federation values peaceful civic discourse and free speech, but the vitriol, violence, and antisemitism we are witnessing are unacceptable.

We are grateful to USC’s Department of Public Safety and the Los Angeles Police Department for their de-escalation efforts and their delicate handling of Wednesday’s protests, even as rocks, glass, water bottles, and other projectiles were reportedly thrown at the officers.

Student and faculty safety must be paramount. Right now, Jewish students do not feel safe on campus. Instead, campuses are lightning rods for the conflict in the Middle East, drawing non-student agitators as well as students to foment a threatening campus climate. When protests escalate to the point of endangering students, steps must be taken to restore safety.

There is no single solution to addressing these problems. As such, Jewish Federation Los Angeles has launched a multipronged strategy to combat the systemic campus antisemitism. Our approach balances the need for safety, resiliency, and our continued commitment to Jewish joy.

  • We have been working relentlessly to support Jewish students and faculty, in collaboration with our partners at USC Hillel, Hillel at UCLA, and Hillel 818, to ensure they have the necessary support, feel protected, and have the resources they need to be safe. As events developed, we were in close communication with USC Hillel. Please read USC Hillel’s statement.
  • Our Federation’s Community Security Initiative (CSI) has been in touch with Jewish institutions directly impacted by the protests, as well as those in proximity. CSI is also in close contact with law enforcement for updates on any potential threats to campuses.
  • We are convening the Board of Rabbis of Southern California to mobilize our Jewish leaders to provide comfort and counsel to all local Jewish students who need it.
  • We are working closely with the Jewish Faculty Resiliency Group, first organized at UCLA, to create a space for Jewish and Zionist faculty to work together to combat anti-Israel hate and antisemitism.
  • Our Campus Impact Network was created for this very moment to support students on campus, build community and coalitions, bolster students’ voices, and help them to lead their peers through this distressing time. That is exactly what we are doing now — strengthening our campus community to meet the moment.
  • Our Federation led a statewide campaign, with the support of 38 Jewish organizational partners, to elevate our concerns to the UC Regents and identify 12 proactive steps to address this antisemitic climate.
  • JFEDLA President & CEO Rabbi Noah Farkas testified to the UC Regents in late March to express the concerns of our community. During his testimony, he stated to the UC governing body: “I know what justice looks like… What I see happening is…injustice to the Jewish students and faculty who are under assault physically and psychologically by the systemic antisemitism that has metastasized… We will do all the work that is necessary to protect our people on campus and bring them back in safety.”
  • Through our Antisemitism Roundtable, we coordinate and help mobilize local Jewish organizations, each of which is dedicated to combating antisemitism, so that together, we can strategically and effectively respond.
  • Along with our partners at the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California, we met with Governor Gavin Newsom’s team to ensure the first-of-its-kind “Golden State Plan to Fight Antisemitism” addressed our core concerns.
  • Just one month after October 7th, we cohosted the Western Region Summit on Antisemitism in Higher Education in partnership with Hillel International, USC Hillel, and USC. The summit brought together more than 100 university administrators from over 40 colleges and universities on the West Coast, including university presidents, provosts, and deans. The conference was a call to action for the need to safeguard our Jewish students, sensitize administrators to our concerns, and demand inclusive excellence.

We consistently help so that our Jewish students and faculty are heard and supported to fully thrive on campus. To those who are bearing the brunt of this, we say: “We are with you. You are not alone.”

As Passover continues, we are reminded that through our hard work, redemption is possible.

Am Yisrael Chai,

Orna Wolens

Chair of the Board

Rabbi Noah Farkas

President & CEO