Standing in the atrium, lined up outside, and seated in the balcony above, students and community members showed support for Israel and the Jewish community at Grant Hall this week.
Approximately 600 students gathered on Oct. 16 in remembrance of Israelis impacted by the war in the Middle East and to demand Israeli hostages be released. The event was a collaborative effort by Kingston and Queen’s local Jewish organizations.
“We gather here tonight not just as a member of the Kingston Jewish community, or as students at Queen’s University, but as one family,” Yos Tarshish, director of Queen’s Hillel, said on stage. “We’re people with one heart and in these dark times we must remember we’re not alone.”
Stories from Queen’s students impacted by the war in the Middle East echoed through Grant Hall. Students shared stories of loss and led prayers for Israel and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
Attendees were asked to take home candles and light them to commemorate the lost lives of Israeli citizens. The event closed with all attendees singing the Israeli national anthem, some draped in Israeli flags.
In an interview with The Journal, Gili Golan, ArtSci ’24, explained how the community rallied immediately following the attack in Israel. Golan was proud of the turn out, especially given how small a percentage of the student population at Queen’s is Jewish.
“To get everyone all in one room on the same page is really special,” Golan said. “Because you don’t feel this type of energy or support outside of a room like this. You just don’t. There’s not enough of us.”
Golan was proud of the unity shown by the Jewish community at the vigil. He called on students to feel empowered by their Jewish identity, and know they have a community behind them.
“I think this was just a demonstration of what can happen when you give the Jewish people circumstances where they have to come together. We do without question, without a doubt, without a second,” Golan said.
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