‘And Then The Politics Came Into It’: Evolving Jewish Community Spaces at Harvard

While political tensions are pervasive to many, and dictate the actions of some, many Jewish students have remained united by the recognition of a common identity with some of those they disagree with, and an aspiration for mutual understanding.


{shortcode-21cc3534b02e5a90dd1b6e61be0fe28423896a7e} group of seniors was playing tug of war at Harvard Hillel when Jeremy Ornstein ’24, a freshman at the time, was invited to join.

“There’s these older seniors who are so sweet—they’re just so warm, and there’s all this intelligence behind their eyes,” he recounts. “And they’ve said, ‘Come on Jeremy, play tug of war with us.’ And it was awesome.”

It was the week before the Covid-19 pandemic sent everyone off campus. It was a weird week, and he didn’t know where to go or who to hang out with, until he was invited to the game of tug of war.

The experience kept him coming back to Hillel upon his return to campus. He studied the Torah with a teacher there, and sang and danced with the Student Conservative Minyan.

“There’s just moments in these prayer services where you’re singing, it’s a Friday night, you’ve just done your homework, maybe went to a party. And you’re swaying, and you’re in this room and there’s these windows on the sides, and it’s just dark blue outside at night,” Ornstein recounts. “Suddenly the swaying becomes more vigorous, and you’ve got your arms around your buddy’s shoulder. Then the singing is coming from your gut, it’s so loud and you’re swaying, and you’re stomping and then we’re all dancing in a circle facing Shabbat, which is just this gift of peace and recognition of our peace and rest.”

But after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, Ornstein, among others, found himself unable to go back to Hillel for weeks.

He had participated in a protest calling for a ceasefire after the occupation of University Hall in November, and he says his friends at Hillel wouldn’t look at him. He says they were angry with him — that they felt betrayed that he was saying “Jews for Palestine.” So he stayed away.

Ornstein’s experience, while unique, is not singular.

Long-existing but underlying political tensions regarding Israel in Jewish community organizations have taken hold of discussions, relationships and actions that take place in the spaces.

The intense national scrutiny on the ways in which antisemitism does or does not pervade a Jewish Harvard student’s life has only worsened strife between many separate experiences, seemingly only united by a campus. New groups have formed, war-related posters appear on bulletin boards, and both pro-Palestinian protests and tabling “educational” events about Israeli deaths appear frequently in the Old Harvard Yard.

Yet while the tensions are pervasive to many, and dictate the actions of some, many Jewish students have remained united by the recognition of a common identity with some of those they disagree with, and an aspiration for mutual understanding.

‘That’s what affects me, that’s what affects my peers’

{shortcode-dd08abb0bb2b02bf4881baaa9fb305566107f8d4}he last few months have seen the rise of a worldwide interest in what it means to be Jewish at Harvard.

In early January, following the resignation of Claudine Gay, Jacob M. Miller ’25, a Crimson Editorial Chair, spoke on CNN, describing the chants of “intifada” in protests and social media posts that insist Jews control the media.

“That’s what affects me, that’s what affects my peers,” he said. Miller argued in a separate interview with Fox that equating Jewish rule with white colonialism is an antisemitic double standard.

Interim president Alan M. Garber ’76, too, called antisemitism at Harvard “pernicious.” Members of Congress have equated a Palestine Solidarity Committee statement and their protests to calls for genocide. Harvard donors like Bill A. Ackman ’88 and conservative activists like Christopher F. Rufo have taken to X to allege extreme antisemitism on Harvard’s campus. President Claudine Gay ultimately resigned after attacks on her ability to subdue a campus supposedly riled with antisemitism.

In January, six Jewish students sued Harvard for “severe” antisemitism on campus.

The lawsuit alleged that “mobs of pro-Hamas students and faculty” have marched through Harvard’s campus and occupied buildings and libraries “promoting violence against Jews and harassing and assaulting them on campus.”

All of these events and statements create an image of rampant antisemitism on campus, a sentiment felt by some members of the Jewish community. Traditional Jewish organizations Hillel and Chabad have provided spaces for these students to process these experiences. They’ve also taken an active role in fighting this antisemitism.

But ask other Jewish students, some of whom occupied University Hall in the name of ceasefire, and some of the claims of antisemitism would be not only an exaggeration, but a dangerous use of the word that precludes the identification of genuine instances of hatred.

At the center of these allegations are Jewish Harvard students — many tired of the national spotlight, some hurt by the actions and words of their peers, others unoffended and confronted by the dissonance of a relatively tranquil college campus that the world believes to be in peril.

However students have come to grapple with it, ultimately, this coverage and attention has resulted in the oversimplification of both an identity and an experience. Amidst the division, there lies a desire for reconciliation and nuance.

“Harvard can be a place where we love our Jewishness, where we connect with Jewish people in Israel — and where we also gaze at the horrors of conflict, the pain of antisemitism, and the brutality of an occupation,” Ornstein says.

‘We were really united, and then the politics came into it’

{shortcode-dd08abb0bb2b02bf4881baaa9fb305566107f8d4}he spaces made to provide support for Jewish students have faced challenges and changes as the politics of war and religion swelled on campus.

Harvard Hillel, the oldest and largest center for Jewish life on campus, is one of the organizations that has seen internal changes as students have grappled with these difficult questions involving their identities.

Directly following the Oct. 7 attack, students found refuge and support in Hillel. Charles M. Covit ’27, a Crimson Editorial editor, says he witnessed an increased involvement at Hillel from students who may not have participated in the space before in the days following the attack.

“Seeing how everyone was really kind of doing their part, it was definitely a powerful moment to see,” he recounts. “People responded very differently — some people just needed to take the time to grieve and think about it — but a lot of people, really people that I had barely even seen at Hillel before then, came out of the woodwork and were super involved in responding to it and being part of the community in that moment.”

Yet Meredith W. B. Zielonka ’25, an associate business manager at The Crimson, says that this was not a long-term change. As the war continued, she says, the level of involvement in Hillel shifted. People stopped showing up to the building as much when Israel began its counterattack a few weeks into October.

“We were really united, and then the politics came into it,” she says. “It’s really a pattern with our community — that politics divide us so much.”


Hillel itself has always had a fairly diverse membership, offering four prayer communities for Jewish students across different affiliations: Conservative, Reform, Orthodox, and Worship and Study (traditional egalitarian). Because of its variety of offerings, Hillel attracts students across different affiliations and different levels of involvement with Judaism — some visit Hillel for every meal, while others only come for holidays or weekly bagel brunches.

For example, Maya Shiloni ’26, who identifies as completely secular but culturally Jewish, participates in Friday night Shabbat dinners and Sunday morning bagel brunches. She has felt and continues to feel particularly protected by Hillel as a student from Israel and a former member of the Israeli Military Intelligence.

“Campus has not always been welcoming towards me,” Shiloni explains. “Hillel is the only organization that actually fights for me and does something about it.”

The Kosher diet is also an important factor in facilitating community within Hillel. For students who keep kosher, their dining options are limited, as house dining halls offer few kosher options. This creates a particularly tight bond for those students attending Hillel every day for dinner.

Covit says that it is important to have Jewish spaces on campus so Jewish students can practice their cultural customs together. He says he enjoys the company of other Jewish students during meals and especially during Shabbat.

“Community is definitely a huge part of Judaism, too,” he says. “So a lot of it is really just about the people and a sense of a familial feeling.”

Although many students find this type of community in Hillel, some have felt that the ease with which they can do so partially depends on their religious affiliation or political views.

While Rabbi Getzel Davis, Hillel’s campus rabbi, will sometimes lead Reform services, the organization does not have a formal Reform rabbi. Students who identify as Reform largely have to initiate services themselves, though Davis will help students like Maya A. Bodnick ’26, who delivered the sermon at Reform Rosh Hashanah services last fall, with preparing and organizing these events.

“There is no Reform minyan at Hillel anymore. There are people trying to start it up again, but it’s not really a regular body,” says Zielonka, an active participant in the Modern Orthodox community at Hillel. (A group of reform students have met weekly with Davis this spring for a pre-shabbat discussion and candle lighting.)

Students who have spent less time in Hillel since Oct. 7 cite Hillel International’s stated goal of inspiring students to create an “enduring connection” to Israel, which they see as a force against diverse discussions. “Hillel provides every Jewish student with the opportunity to explore and build a lasting relationship with Israel,” the Hillel International website reads.

One afternoon, Ornstein attended a gathering facilitated by Rabbi David J. Wolpe, a visiting professor at the Harvard Divinity School, who spoke with a woman whose sister was killed in Israel. She recounted how horrible and scary of an experience it was, Ornstein says. After her account, Wolpe told the crowd that they all should sing Hatikvah, the Israeli national anthem. Then he opened it up to questions from the audience, telling them to remember that it wasn’t political, that was about people’s lives. This contrast was upsetting for Ornstein.

“It’s painful when we decide that some people’s lives aren’t political and other people’s lives are political. It’s just painful. It’s so fucking painful,” he says. “Any country can be a dream for something more than its people and for its people, but it’s painful, when to be in a Jewish gathering, we expect each other to sing the song of a nation that has a specific policy that is killing thousands of people.”

“Everyone sings Hatikvah like it’s the most common sense, and everyone says that Jewish lives aren’t political, and then we don’t have the conversations of more than 20,000 Palestinians who have been killed,” he says.

Other students with more left-leaning political views have also found themselves struggling to find community at Hillel.

“While there are many lovely and welcoming people in the community, at Harvard Hillel and at Harvard more widely, some friends of mine, including folks who ended up founding Jews for Liberation, had some pretty negative experiences,” says Harvard Divinity School student Francesca Rubinson. “Not necessarily with staff or anything, but when conversations would come up around Zionism, around Palestine solidarity, they would feel very singled out and very isolated if they expressed their views in terms of advocating for Palestine or Palestinian liberation.”

‘What we disagree on is how to get there’

{shortcode-a0fafb3727a5405eac46bd1741f1eafab86bbf7e}arvard Chabad takes a different space on campus.

The Chabad house is tall and tan and fits in well with the other 19th-century-style homes on the street where it sits. If you pass by on a Tuesday night when the weather is good, you’ll see a crowd of people talking, eating and laughing. People flow in and out of the house with plates full of rice, veggies, chicken and tofu. The crowd is made up of both undergraduates and graduate students; there are also neighbors, recent graduates, and people looking for good conversation over the steaming kosher Chinese food that Chabad provides each Tuesday night. Other nights, a smaller group of students sits outside, conducting prayer over a more intimate meal. Either way, the lights in the Chabad house glow.

Chabad itself is a sect of Orthodox Hasidic Judaism, but it doesn’t narrow to that definition in Harvard's Jewish community. Chabad is known worldwide for a desire to build connections with a broader Jewish world, and this is exceptionally true for the organization under the leadership of Rabbi Hirschy Zarchi. Harvard Chabad, like Hillel, reaches even those who don’t identify as Jewish. For example, at the annual Shabbat 1000, nearly a thousand Harvard affiliates, regardless of their religious or ethnic identities, gather for Shabbat. The open-to-all Tuesday night Chinese dinners are also popular amongst Jewish and non-Jewish people.


We made our way to the Chabad house for a service one cold Saturday morning in January, hoping to better understand its wide reach and learn about its origins. It is practice in Orthodox prayer to separate women and men during the service, so when we entered, we sat down on the female side of the ornately decorated wooden panel. The service took place in a living room filled with chairs. The house was warm, and four or five little boys ran up and down the stairs during the service, which was mostly in Hebrew.

After the service, we moved upstairs for lunch. Zarchi, the founder and president of Harvard Chabad noticed our new appearance and motioned for us to sit and speak with him. Amidst the conversation, we asked about the founding of this group. He stood up a few minutes later and waved his hands over the crowd. People began shushing and went silent. Zarchi, loud and charismatic, then told the story of the founding of Harvard Chabad.

In the mid-’90s, a young Zarchi attended Chabad services in Brookline. After service, he frequented Harvard Square, setting up a table distributing Jewish literature to passers-by and offering Tefillin, an arm-wrap practice done by Jewish men during morning prayer. He met students this way, who expressed a desire for a Chabad space on campus.

Zarchi and his wife made it their mission to create one. They began in a small rented unit in mid-Cambridge in 1997. By 1999, Harvard Chabad bought the current building with alumni support, and in 2003, Zarchi became a recognized campus chaplain. Over the last few years, Chabad has accumulated several neighboring properties with plans to build a much larger center. Zarchi says Chabad also plans to build a center in the Longwood Medical Area to accommodate Harvard Medical students.

According to Zarchi, while the proportion of Jewish students at Harvard has dropped since the ’90s, he has only seen growth at Chabad, a testament to its welcoming atmosphere to students.

Alex L. S. Bernat ’25, who went to a Jewish day school, says that finding a strong Jewish community was a large factor in his college choices. He wanted people to go to Shabbat dinner with and celebrate the high holidays. When he arrived at Harvard, he first went to Hillel, before attending a barbeque at Chabad. Chabad felt familial and communal. He liked the people and the rabbis.

“I immediately met people who it seemed like I would be very friendly with,” he says. “It felt in a good way like it was an extension of the parts of high school Jewish culture.”

Bernat has become more observant since starting college. While he was involved in Jewish activity and community at home, a lot of his religious growth happened while at Harvard because he enjoys the company of the people he practices with.

Chabad President Ben A. Landau ’24 was drawn to Chabad for similar reasons. His sister was an active Chabad member before he arrived at Harvard, and when he walked into the space for the first time, he also found it to be warm and welcoming. He met kind staff members and older students who were helpful to him throughout college.

“It’s just a time where people are trying to make sense of their place in the world,” Landau says about his first year of college. “You’re meeting all these new people, you’re figuring out what you might want to do. To have a space where I could practice my Judaism, learn about what it meant to me, and how I want it to be a part of my life going forward, I think was obviously very important.”

Zarchi adds that he’s also seen students strengthen their connection to Judaism through Chabad. He says this is because Chabad welcomes challenging questions, and finds those who ask them as valuable, because they demonstrate a genuine interest in Judaism.

In the wake of Oct. 7, Bernat says he saw the Jewish community come closer. He especially noticed this at a vigil for the victims of the attacks.

“Something I noticed is that Jews and non-Jew allies showed out to this vigil and in numbers that I don’t think I have ever seen at Harvard,” Bernat says. “People who were wholly uninvolved and didn’t have a particular interest in becoming involved in the more religious aspects or any other kind of avenues of pursuing Judaism on campus came to this, and I think it goes to show that the Jewish community here is really unified.”

Landau pointed out that those who were already committed to Judaism have felt a stronger sense of connection too. “Many feel physically unsafe here, and I think people take a lot of comfort in spaces and communities where other people know how that feels,” Landau says.

{shortcode-21cc3534b02e5a90dd1b6e61be0fe28423896a7e}ccording to board members and Rabbis, Harvard Chabad is not a political place. But leaders of the organization hold a firm belief in the right for Israel to exist.

Zarchi said that Chabad works to educate those who are “ignorant” and “delusional” regarding Israel. Bernat says that he distinguishes between the chants “from water to water Palestine is Arab” and less controversial phrases like “Let Gaza Live,” but says that as it is the same groups behind both chants, “it is hard for me to separate the sentiments.”

The organization plays an active role in educating the public on Israel and combating antisemitism. Following Oct. 7, a new position was created on the student board of Chabad: Israel Chair. Bernat currently holds this position, and as a part of the role, he hosted a screening of footage from the Oct. 7 attack. The role was a natural fit for him, he says, as he’s always cared about Israel and taken an active role in Chabad’s previous efforts to end antisemitism.

As Israel Chair, Bernat set up Chabad tables in the yard, reached out to faculty speakers and established security for the attack screening. He also spoke with the Israeli ambassador to the UN about the tensions on campus.

While Chabad is not a political organization, the politics inevitably enter the discussions that take place in the rooms of the Chabad House. Although the group claims that anyone is welcome, some find the space intolerant of any criticism of Israel.

Landau says he’d rather focus on the similarities between members of the Jewish community.

“Something that I think gets lost a lot in times like this, where it feels like everybody’s shouting and nobody's listening, is that at the end of the day, everybody wants peace,” Landau says. “What we disagree on is how to get there.”

Jewishness as a ‘Way of Being’

{shortcode-e64d65eabc2c8945c17364f3d09655b667e30e03}ooking to fill an ideological gap in Jewish spaces on campus, and to present an alternative to Harvard Hillel and Chabad, Shir Lovett-Graff and a few other students at the Harvard Divinity School founded Jews for Liberation in the late fall of 2021.

At its origin, Jews for Liberation was a small group, maybe 10 to 12 people, and the first meeting took place in one of the members’ houses, according to Miriam S. Israel, a student at the Divinity School. They went around giving introductions and talking about why they decided to attend. The idea was to create a space to connect Jewish values and Jewish ideas to liberation movements and other political issues.

For Israel, that first gathering was personally invigorating, and the concept to her was revolutionary.

“It did feel really exciting to just look around and see, ‘Okay, these are other people who hold the same values that I do and also have come from the same background,’” Israel says. “It was kind of one of the first places where it was safe or acceptable to talk about some of these contradictions.”

Since its founding, Jews for Liberation has hosted a variety of events, including holiday rituals for Yom Kippur, Passover Seder, Purim and Rosh Hashanah, as well as conversations with prison abolition groups and speaker events about transformative justice. They’ve also hosted a workshop called “Wrestling with Zionism,” intended for Jewish students to grapple with questions in a discussion setting.

After joining Jews for Liberation, Israel says her relationship with Judaism has changed.

“It’s a little bit harder to feel comfortable in a lot of institutional Jewish spaces,” Israel says. “But I would actually say that Judaism is almost more important to me now than it ever has been, as an identity and as a way of being in the world and a way of relating to other people.”

Rubinson, who grew up in the Reform community, was also a founding member of the group. A few months into her first year at HDS, she attended a Hanukkah gathering hosted by Jews for Liberation.

“I felt very lucky to come in with a cohort that also included a bunch of Jewish folks like me, who were interested in creating our own spiritual life and rituals that we thought would be meaningful to us and that felt aligned with our political values as well,” she says.

Rubinson eventually joined leadership of the group, where she says she could “think and dream” about creating an accepting space for those “not accepted for their views or for their activism.”

“As we became leaders together, what we would talk about a lot was wanting to provide that space and care for exploration and hold people as they were able to wrestle with the really difficult questions,” Rubinson says. “We don’t necessarily think that everything we say or do is right 100 percent of the time, and we are committed to just being with each other as we figure out how to move forward and be better partners for solidarity and liberation.”

Following Oct. 7, the group’s purpose for gathering and the sentiments within the gatherings changed. Members found that because Harvard was put under such intense scrutiny, they felt the need to show that the Jewish community was not a monolith in what they believe about Israel, or about antisemitism. The organization also saw a growth in interest amongst Jewish students. Meetings became larger.

“Everyone, I would say, myself included, was really dealing with pain and shock, and loss and grief given Oct. 7, as well as the violence that has continued to follow it,” Rubinson says. “All the Jewish people I know are touched by that grief and that loss, and also anger and frustration with world leaders, and honestly, I would say, to some extent with our elders and Jewish community for letting things get to this point.”

“I think people are having real moments of soul searching and deeper questioning of a lot of things they’ve been taught and working on learning and unlearning,” she says.

‘Anti-zionism does not equate to antisemitism’

{shortcode-a0fafb3727a5405eac46bd1741f1eafab86bbf7e}arvard Jews for Palestine (J4P) was founded last fall after Oct. 7. Shortly after the attack, the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee and 33 other student organizations published a letter naming Israel “entirely responsible” for the attack. Members of the PSC and the other student groups received national backlash, and their personal information was posted online and on a truck that drove through Harvard Square and to their homes.

Violet T. M. Barron ’26, a Crimson Editorial Editor and one of the founding members of J4P, identifies as a Reform and secular Jew. She recounts that watching her close friends being doxxed during the backlash to the PSC letter “tore her apart.”

“I wasn’t sure why there were no Jewish students speaking out against the fact that all of this was happening under the guise or the illusion that somehow this letter was antisemitic,” she recounts.

“So I went to Hillel,” Barron adds. “I tried looking for anyone who was willing to maybe collaborate with PSC or open some sort of discussion on it. No one seemed willing.”

In early November, Barron found three other Jewish students who shared her political views. Barron and the other founding members of J4P received guidance from Jews for Liberation because before J4P, there was no leftist Jewish space for undergraduates.

“It was the first Jewish space at the school where I felt truly accepted, both for my racial background and my political leaning,” Barron says.

Barron says she had attended events at Hillel and Chabad over the past three semesters, looking for “traditions and things that I feel unite Jewish people across different branches or camps.” But instead of finding unity and welcoming spaces, Barron says she “never felt truly accepted.” Being Asian-American and politically left leaning, Barron was always a minority in predominantly Jewish spaces.

“I think as an Asian American, my Jewish identity is rarely assumed by others,” Barron explains.

“I think it was a combination of my racial background and my political views, because I think that up until we started Jews for Palestine, the predominant Jewish spaces on campus were quite Zionist — or at least very hesitant to critique Israel — despite what we all saw Israel was doing on the news,” Barron adds.

Despite feeling unwelcome in Hillel and Chabad, Barron says she has had productive and positive interactions with individual members from both organizations.

“I’ve worked with some of them on The Crimson,” she explains. “And I’ve actually had some really, really great one-on-one interactions with them.”

“I’ve edited people’s pieces for The Crimson — pieces which have been about Israel, Palestine, or antisemitism — and we don’t necessarily agree on those topics, but I’ve definitely learned from them,” she adds. “Other people have edited my pieces who don’t agree with my views. I think they’ve learned from me. So I’ve had very good interactions with individuals in those organizations.”

While individuals in Hillel and Chabad might be open to discussing Israel, Barron says that Hillel and Chabad as organizations do not welcome such discussions.

“I think as institutions their voice is very Zionist and the statements that they put out have been — what feels like to me — blindly pro-Israel,” Barron explains.

Despite only having four members at its founding, Jews for Palestine is quite active. Their brightly colored pamphlets reading “anti-zionism does not equate to antisemitism” populated much poster space on campus for a number of months. On Nov. 16, nine of their members occupied University Hall overnight, demanding a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

‘Unafraid to ask questions’

{shortcode-be29865d8a9c7908fa05930b7f2d42574eaa573c}n the fall semester, a group arose out of a desire for an alternative to both the earlier protest groups and Zionist spaces — a desire for a space to converse.

Founding members of the Forward-Thinking Jewish Union consist largely of junior and senior undergraduates, looking to fill a gap in the political representation of more liberal Jews by hosting discussions and speaker events.

Noah B. Kassis ’25, who participates in the Hillel Student Conservative Minyan, says he decided to help organize a progressive space because of his experiences with Hillel. When he would attend Hillel for Shabbat dinner, he found there to be constant “Israel-positive programming.” This was new to him, as Israel was not the center of the synagogue community in which he grew up.

“It felt like there was a political focus that didn’t align with mine,” he says. “So I felt like it was a space where kind of the default was to be a Zionist and really have a particular set of ideas about Israel.”

Kassis plans to continue to participate in Hillel as it adapts, while he remains involved in giving life to the Forward Thinking Jewish Union.

“It will give us a chance to have a more realistic picture of what Jewish life on campus actually looks like and think about how we want to create spaces where we can all come together — whether that looks like Hillel shifting, whether that looks like having forums where people from different groups can come together,” Kassis says.

In a previous interview with the Crimson, Forward-Thinking Jewish Union founder Serena F. Jampel ’25, a Crimson magazine writer, said that the group has heavy overlap with Jews for Palestine, both consisting of a dozen or so active members.

The two organizations have different tactics however, both of which are necessary for their purpose, explains Ornstein, another founding member. In one way, Jews for Palestine is challenging Harvard to have the conversations that FTJU facilitates. In another way, the two groups provide different perspectives, which can help further diversify the political conversation.

“Harvard is meant to be just rich, rich with diverse groups asking diverse questions and unafraid to ask questions, and not afraid to cry if the questions hurts, and unafraid to say I’ve got your back,” he says. “And unafraid to sing.”

‘Here’s my hand’

{shortcode-24643cedbe14221289878261864001a8ceef067a}rnstein found himself in a confusing place after Oct. 7.

He felt a deep grief and fear for all the Israeli and Palestinian people brutally murdered and taken hostage.

“I wish I could have just mourned for those people,” he says. The inability to mourn he considers “a failure of humanity.” He says his grief, however, “was just stained by politics and by the occupation from the beginning.”

On Nov. 17, Ornstein participated in a protest after the occupation of University Hall, an action he found to be “imperfect.” He had an idea for something better, a gathering that might be more effective — one big discussion, where Jewish people with all sorts of political beliefs gather and say what is upsetting them.

“We enter into intimacy by listening, by asking for forgiveness and then by asking for the ones who forgive us to listen even more closely to what we were trying to say in the first place,” Ornstein says. “When you shout, it makes the other person want to cover their ears. But when you whisper and say, ‘Here’s my hand, I need you talking with me,’ people might get closer.”

Corrections: February 18, 2024

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Jeremy Ornstein did not return to Harvard Hillel after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. In fact, Ornstein has returned to Hillel since Oct. 7.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Rabbi Getzel Davis is Harvard Hillel’s Conservative rabbi. In fact, Davis is Hillel’s campus rabbi.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Bernat distinguished between the chants “from the river to the sea” and “Let Gaza Live.” In fact, Bernat distinguished between the chants “from water to water Palestine is Arab” and “Let Gaza Live.”

Clarification: February 19, 2024

This article has been updated to clarify that Jeremy Ornstein participated in a protest after the occupation of University Hall in November 2023, but did not participate in the occupation itself.

This article has been updated to clarify that while a group of reform students have been meeting weekly at Hillel for a pre-shabbat discussion and candle lighting.

—Staff writer Madeleine A. Hung can be reached at madeleine.hung@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Asher J. Montgomery can be reached at asher.montgomery@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @asherjmont or on Threads @asher_montgomery.