The Hamas terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip held an anti-Israel “Day of Jihad” on Oct. 13 putting Jewish organizations worldwide on high alert for antisemitic violence. Jewish college students are opting to fight fire with water with a “global day of lovingkindness” on Oct. 22.
“It’s difficult to see the degree of disrespect and antagonism that exists towards supporters of Israel,” said Uriel Sussman, a junior studying philosophy at Yeshiva University in New York City.
“I think the desire for positivity to combat the hatred that people are feeling has been one of the drivers of the global ‘Day of Lovingkindness’ campaign,” Sussman told JNS.
Yeshiva’s campus in Manhattan, where the undergraduate student body is virtually entirely Jewish and largely Orthodox, has been “particularly somber,” Sussman said. He said he hears “frightening and shocking” reports from friends on other campuses.
“If the supporters of Hamas are perpetuating violence and evil on a ‘Day of Jihad,’ then the supporters of Israel will call upon our values by spreading ahavah (‘love’) and building up the world with acts of compassion and righteousness on a ‘Day of Lovingkindness’ (chesed),” per the event’s website.
Sussman told JNS that after he conceived of the idea, he discussed it with Rabbi Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University, who told him: “Make it happen.”
“At the time, I had no idea what that meant,” Sussman said. “If I learned one thing from this campaign, it is that with a lot of hard work and a dedicated team, you can really make a difference in the world.”
Dozens of organizations in eight countries have endorsed the event, including Yeshiva University, Hillel International, UJA-Federation New York, Bnei Akiva, NCSY, Chabad on Campus, Yachad, Gift of Life and StandWithUs.
Recommendations for those who want to participate include buying someone a meal, greeting strangers, donating blood and picking up litter around the neighborhood. “Think outside the box and come up with your own ways to make the world a better place,” say organizers.
Among those who have shared information about the day of kindness on social media is Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.), who posted it to more than 37,000 followers.
“It is one thing to have a good idea. It is quite another to see it spread on the national stage,” Sussman said. “I think it was at once confirming and exciting.”