I am out of words and out of energy. I am physically and emotionally drained. This past week has been incredibly difficult and something I had hoped I wouldn’t ever have to experience.
Antisemitic chalk markings were found around UF campus Wednesday, which included Thursday’s date, Feb. 2 — insinuating something was going to occur the next day.
To much dismay, a traveling white supremacist group showed up.
Their presence gave off an eerie aura, sending chills up my spine. They set up their table and cameras in the middle of the Plaza of the Americas, a large, open space on campus, with a sign reading “Ye was right, prove me wrong.”
When I heard about the chalkings and the potential of the group's arrival, I decided I wanted to take action in whatever way possible.
I stood in Plaza handing out stickers and asking students to “Chomp Hate,” UF Hillel’s initiative to combat antisemitism, on campus while I watched this group sit and spew antisemitic lies to their viewers and the crowd that had formed around them.
Despite my attempts to “Chomp Hate,” I feel defeated.
UF has the largest Jewish student population out of any public university in the U.S.
If we can experience antisemitism here, it can happen anywhere.
No one can ever prepare you for what it’s like when your campus experiences antisemitism. This place, my safe space, is now tarnished. I am exhausted. I am fearful. I am scared.
But this is another reason why we can’t stop fighting back. We can’t let hate win. We must stand up to those who want to bring us down, but we have to do so in a way that brings light into this world.
Educate others by sharing stories about the Holocaust, and why we can’t let it happen again.
Staying silent puts the Jewish community at risk. Staying silent makes things worse. Staying silent doesn’t create change.
Hug your Jewish friends. Send them a text and let them know you are thinking about them and support them. Let them know that you will fight with them. Be their advocates like they are for you.
Never be afraid to speak up. They can’t win if we continue to speak up.
Hadassah Sternfeld is a 19-year-old UF women’s studies freshman.