Standing Together as One Badger Family

Standing Together as One Badger Family

From UW-Madison Jewish Alumni Group

Dedicated to fostering a thriving Jewish community at UW-Madison, our alumni group supports the success and wellbeing of current Jewish students, uniting past and present Jewish Badgers on campus and beyond.

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United Against Hate: Standing Together as One Badger Family

Shared on behalf of 1,000+ UW-Madison Jewish Alumni

To Our Badger Community,

We are disgusted and heartbroken over the antisemitic events that have taken place on and around campus since October 7th. First, we saw videos with pro-Hamas rhetoric, including the chanting of “Glory to the Martyrs” on the steps of Memorial Library. Then, just last weekend, on November 18th, we saw a neo-Nazi march near our beloved campus.  

Swastikas, Nazi salutes and menacing chants like "There will be blood" on the streets of Madison contradict the open and progressive principles this city is famous for. What makes all of this particularly distressing is that it happened following the horrors of October 7th in Israel, the single deadliest attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust. This disgrace is compounded by the skyrocketing number of antisemitic attacks against Jews worldwide, and all of this makes one thing clear to us: Jew-hatred persists and demands urgent action.

We are a group of alumni who live across the globe, but in some ways, Madison will always be our home. It’s where many of us discovered, re-discovered, or grew closer to our Jewish identities, and it’s where we found a deep sense of community that went beyond a normal college experience.

We’ll always love Madison, and because of that, we are comforted to see the events of November 18th immediately and unequivocally denounced by Chancellor Mnookin, Governor Evers, Senator Baldwin, Mayor Rhodes-Conway and other elected officials. We commend the clear communication that there is no place for antisemitism on campus, that there is no description of these events other than “disgusting and repugnant.” We also deeply appreciate the immediate heightened security on campus and the availability of mental health resources for students following this hate-fueled onslaught.

Still, we can’t erase the devastating reality of what took place – of what is taking place. There are times when free speech can tip into harassment and intimidation, and this is clearly one of those times. In this vein, we hope to send our message loud and clear to all Jewish students on campus: 

We are here for You. We stand with You. We were You.

We remember (some better than others…) our years in Madison – the joy of walking up State Street to the Capitol, the less-joyful trek up Bascom Hill to class, the Badger football games that turned the streets red and white, the Shabbat dinners at Chabad and Hillel.

It may be hard to see right now, but You are not alone. You have a strong and vibrant community, both on campus and among Badger alumni. In Madison, Hillel and Chabad are not just organizations; they are pillars of support and understanding. And in times of uncertainty, these spaces offer solace, connection and a sense of belonging. We encourage you to continue living your lives as Jews on campus without fear, because the best thing we can do is maintain our identities unapologetically. 

As an immediate action to show our support, we will be sponsoring all Shabbat dinners at UW Hillel and UW Chabad through the end of 2023. We raised these funds through a word-of-mouth alumni network that began just 24 hours after that abhorrent march on November 18th and includes many of the co-signers of this letter. We are Badgers forever, and we feel a responsibility to the next generation of Jewish Badgers as well.

The college years are complex -- they are years of self-discovery nuanced with the novelty of leaving home, living on your own and among friends and peers, opening your eyes to a well-rounded education, and becoming the person you’ve dreamed of becoming. Unfortunately, at this moment in Your journey, we are also living in times of near-unprecedented Jew-hatred, and we recognize that this has added a challenging layer of complexity to Your college years. 

In this moment, we want to share with you our pride that the Jewish community in Madison lives on, and our faith that we will all emerge strongly from this extremely challenging time. 

With all our love, 

Jewish alumni from the University of Wisconsin-Madison

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