Kyle Blank

A Harvard Christmas with Hamas

Spending the holiday season at Harvard was a special time while working toward my degree, as my classmates from around the world, from all faiths, shared their richest childhood memories and cultural nuances. 

In an environment where sharing was encouraged, we opened our doors to our friends to share about Hanukkah. Planning and happening are not the same thing — and that is where a pandemic can interfere. I purchased 50 pounds of potatoes and onions to make our homemade latkes. My wife’s are the best. She carefully extracts the extra water so they will come out extra crunchy. We had the sides ready, sour cream and applesauce.

Then my classmates started getting sick. Within a few days we realized a holiday celebration was impossible due 30-plus percent of our group being sick. So we did what we had to, we went to Zoom to celebrate. That was all nice and dandy, but I still had an army’s worth of food. So we did what we were taught growing up, we made food and delivered it to all of our sick friends. 

This was Hanukkah 2020.

What I remember most of that holiday season was a splendid Christmas choir service performed by a dear devoutly Christian friend.  I had never been. I was amazed by the songs and joy in the room. I thanked my friend for inviting me.

Graduation has come and gone. We moved to different cities. I still got a Christmas card with a beautiful picture of their growing family on it. That card was shipped to my apartment in Tel Aviv, Israel. 

Holidays are meant to spread love and joy. To bring us together — even if we are from different faiths.

At this point, in late December 2023, you would need to be living on a different planet to be unaware of the genocidal massacre that Hamas committed against innocent Israelis and tourists in southern Israel on 10-7. You would also know that the global support Israel deserves to eradicate a terrorist organization — in similar nature to the Western effort to eradicate ISIS — is incredibly lacking. Without doubt you would know that university campuses around the world have fled behind a banner of “free speech,” in lieu of providing a safe environment for all students.

I attended Harvard. I walked through a communal square that hosted many faiths holiday spirit. This included a Jewish menorah — the candelabra that is lit for eight consecutive nights representing the Jewish people’s triumph over an oppressive ruler that tried to eradicate Judaism some 2,000+ years ago.

It is surely embarrassing that Harvard University, a place that is supposed to educate future leaders by showing us how to respectfully see all walks of life, demanded that the Jewish community live in the shadows this holiday season. I would never imagine Harvard or any other university asking the Christian community to not put up a Christmas tree or to put it up and take it down as quickly as possible — as they told the Jewish community. To be clear, Harvard University informed the Jewish groups on campus that their simple Jewish sign for the holiday — a menorah — could be used for a few minutes a day, but then hidden away so it would not be vandalized. Instead of the university standing up for freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom from terrorist supporters — the university chose to avoid confrontation with the antisemitic terrorist huggers and tell the Jews to hide in shame and fear.

I was a proud Jewish Israeli student that walked the halls of Harvard just last year — I did it wearing a yarmulke. My classmates showed up for our Shabbat dinners. The community expected that each of us could share of our faith.

Claudine Gay’s career-saving “apology” about her congressional testimony is nothing more than a PR effort to distance herself from her very well planned testimony so she would not need to step down. If it was a real apology, just days later, she would not be telling the Jewish community to hide their faith on Harvard’s campus. 

Harvard University, if you stand for this, please let us all know so we can make the appropriate decisions when it comes to applying, attending, and recommending schools to prospective students. Please let us all know so we can make the appropriate decisions around our considered donations. 

Claudine Gay, as you prefer to stand with Hamas, a genocidal anti-LGBTQ anti-feminist anti-democratic anti-free-speech terrorist organization that spent much of October 7th burning babies alive and raping women, please tell us if we are wrong, so we can make the appropriate life decisions. 

About the Author
Kyle grew up in the New York area and moved to Israel on his own at the age of 18 to volunteer in the IDF and MDA. He holds a BA from IDC Herzliya (Reichman University) and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He has spent the past 10-years working in consulting and venture capital. Kyle is the Executive Director of The Discretionary Fund of Israel (DFI), a nonprofit focused on aiding Israel during times of crisis. Kyle lives in Tel Aviv with his wife and son.
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