Promoting Jewish Values through Days Without Hate
By Sarah Harpaz, Class of 2016
When I was originally deciding whether or not to chair Days Without Hate, the answer for me was obvious. I saw Days Without Hate as an opportunity to show people of differing opinions that, as important as it is to stand up for your beliefs, there is a common ground here that many of us overlook.
Every human on this earth has the same goal—to live in a good, moral world that gives us the liberty to live out a life of happiness—we all just have different opinions about how to achieve that goal. We all want the same things in life, and just because others think we should go about it differently does not mean they are evil or detestable. I chose to chair Days Without Hate because it gave me the opportunity to remind others of the common goals that unite us when we too often focus on what divides us.
Days Without Hate is a community service program directed by the students of Rutgers Hillel in November. The event began in 1997 in response to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and has grown from its original idea into an annual event that unites Rutgers faculty, staff, local businesses, and student organizations to make a statement that we care about our social environment.
This event included a series of activities. We asked students, faculty, staff, and local residents to sign a pledge encouraging them to spend an entire day where they consider their words, actions, and their effects. We also distributed flyers with encouragement for acts of kindness. A Blood Drive was held on campus. The event culminated with a motivating rally featuring an interfaith service, a keynote speaker, other student speakers, and an a cappella concert.
To my delight, a lot of people who participated in Days Without Hate really did focus on the things that connect us. In the anonymous letters people wrote at our letter writing table, many people focused on the idea that we all have hardships and that no one is entirely alone in their struggles. In the interviews conducted for the Days Without Hate video, many people noted that what unites us is that we are all Rutgers students here to get an education that will help us move forward in life.
Dr. Fowlin, our keynote speaker, who gave a stirring performance on the Tuesday night of the program, brought to light the fact that we all have skeletons in our closets and that we must learn to care for each other despite, or even because of, those skeletons. Even in the way so many organizations collaborated for this event we got to actualize this idea—very diverse organizations united in the hopes of spreading the message of tolerance. It brought me so much pride to see so many Rutgers students, students who will become the future movers and shakers of this world, feeling so passionate about the same messages we were trying to spread.
I felt it was important for me to do this, not only as an individual, but as a Jew and a member of the Rutgers Hillel community. Jews have a long tradition of tolerance. We don’t proselytize; we believe people should be the best people in whatever religion they are. We are taught not to judge others, but to love our neighbors. As stated by Rabbi Hillel, after whom this organization was named, “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary; now go and learn.” Rutgers Hillel, as the Jewish life organization on campus, has a responsibility to uphold the principles of Judaism and serve as a paradigm for the idyllic Jewish life. Therefore, I am proud to represent Rutgers Hillel as we organize events like Days Without Hate, because the ideas promoted by this event are at the core of what a Jewish life is about.
Help student leaders like Sarah strengthen their connections to Jewish values and the Jewish community through events like Days without Hate.
Rutgers Hillel encourages young Jews to find a meaningful connection to Judaism, practice tikkun olam (repairing the world), and learn Jewish values. These students are the future Jewish leaders of New Jersey.
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