Kingston and Queen’s Jewish communities unite following a week of antisemitic incidents.
In Leggett Hall Residence, a Mezuzah was removed from the doorpost of a Jewish student and damaged on Oct. 22.
A Mezuzah is a small box mounted on the right doorpost of Jewish homes. The box contains a scroll with Torah verses and holds spiritual and cultural significance.
“Some people believe that the Mezuzah provides special protection over the residents of the home where it hangs,” Queen’s Hillel said in a statement posted to their Instagram. “When they pass by a Mezuzah some people have the custom of kissing it (usually touching the Mezuzah with their hand, then kissing their hand).”
In response to the incident, students who previously didn’t have Mezuzahs on their doorposts put them up to make it clear antisemitism has no place at Queen’s. Queen’s Hillel Director Yos Tarshish and Rabbi Sruly Simon came to campus on Oct. 22 to put up new Mezuzahs on doorposts.
According to Residence Life and Services (ResLife), the on-call residence staff immediately responded to the incident and connected the student with support.
The incident was reported to the Kingston Police and an investigation has been launched in accordance with the University’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy.
Residence Life emailed residents in Leggett Hall, condemning all acts of violence, and reaffirming their dedication to creating a safe and inclusive environment for students living in residence. The University is using Flex dollars to incentivize students to anonymously identify the responsible individual.
“Acts of harassment and discrimination are unacceptable; they violate the university’s Harassment and Discrimination Prevention and Response Policy and expectations outlined in the Residence Contract, and will not be tolerated,” ResLife said in the email.
While ResLife asks students to report incidents, Queen’s Hillel encourages the Jewish community to stand together.
“For every act of antisemitic hate, we’ll counter with a hundred acts of Jewish pride and unity,” Queen’s Hillel said in a statement posted on Facebook.
Elsewhere on campus, Nati Pressmann, ArtSci ’25, explained that posters advocating for the return of Israeli hostages were taken down. The posters are part of a global campaign bringing awareness to the 200 Israelis taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7.
“This campaign uses posters with ‘Kidnapped’ written in red, along with a photo of one of the hostages, including their age and nationality,” Pressmann said in a statement to The Journal.
The posters were placed on light poles and traffic crosswalks on Division and Union and University, but Queen’s Facilities took the posters down.
“Placing posters on Queen’s or City light standards violates the Queen’s signage policy and City of Kingston bylaws respectively,” Queen’s University said.
There are several posters on campus calling for an “Intifada” meeting in Douglas Library, Pressmann told The Journal. Intifada refers to two Palestinian uprisings against Israel which led to many deaths on both sides.
“Israeli and Jewish students, like myself, grew up with retellings of horrific stories from the Intifada,” Pressman said. “To call for an Intifada is to call for violence against Jewish students at Queen’s. […] To call for an Intifada is to endorse terrorism as resistance and contribute to an increasingly unsafe environment for Jewish students.”
These posters haven’t been taken down over several days Pressman said. Campus Security claimed it wasn’t within their jurisdiction to remove the posters calling for Intifada since some were posted on City of Kingston property, according to Pressmann.
The University claims any material posted in contravention of university or departmental policies will be removed and discarded by the authorizing department or by university security or custodial personnel.
Off campus, Kingston Police arrested an 18-year-old male suspected in relation to a hate motivated incident following a Kingston Jewish Community rally held in Market Square on Oct. 17.
Participants leaving the rally were crossing the street when a black truck accelerated and turned into the crosswalk, almost hitting participants in the process. After investigating, the police believe the incident was motivated by hate directed towards the Jewish community, according to a police bulletin sent on Oct. 20.
The incident remains under investigation by Kington Police.
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