Earlier this month, the American Jewish Committee honored students at Hillels in the Ukraine city of Kharkiv, and at Indiana University, where students marshaled an effort to create campus-wide solidarity in the face of rising acts of antisemitism.
The Hillels received the AJC Sharon Greene Award for Campus Advocacy, which recognizes college-based advocates who fight antisemitism and support Jewish life on campus.
The award is named after the late Sharon Greene, whose family initially established the award to honor outstanding community service by high school students. It now recognizes students who combat antisemitism, fight the BDS movement and promote a positive image of Israel.
The awards were presented on the closing day of the AJC Global Forum in New York by Josh Greene and his sister Alison, two of Sharon Greene's three children.
“Publicly identifying as Jewish, and particularly as a Zionist, on college campuses in 2022 is not always easy,” said Josh Greene. “Over the past several years, we have witnessed Jewish students being intimidated and ostracized purely because of who they are and what they believe.”
The Hillel at Indiana University was recognized for the launch last fall of the Red Mezuzah Project in response to rising antisemitism on campus. It distributed nearly 1,000 mezuzahs to non-Jewish students and faculty who wanted to show solidarity with the Jewish community. Each one reads, “I stand with my Jewish friends.”
The IU Hillel also helped create the university’s antisemitism task force, which is made up of Jewish and non-Jewish students.
Also receiving an award was the Hillel community in Kharkiv, whose headquarters was destroyed early in the war by Russian bombs. One of its members, Serafim Sabaranskiy, was killed while serving on territorial defense. The five Hillels in Ukraine have been among the groups that have received grants from AJC’s Stand with Ukraine Fund, which raised over $2.4 million.
“We should all be inspired by the Hillel chapters in Ukraine for continuing to support Jewish students in a time of war and sacrifice. AJC is proud to stand in solidarity with them,” said AJC CEO David Harris. “We are also proud to support IU Hillel. Sometimes, antisemitism on American college campuses can seem like a lonely battle. What IU Hillel was able to accomplish was nothing short of remarkable,”
“I’m grateful to AJC for shining a light on what we at Hillel get to see every day. The Jewish future is bright,” said Hillel International President and CEO Adam Lehman.
This article was originally posted by the American Jewish Committee on June 14, 2022.