At a November 9th student government meeting, the Student Bar Association (SBA) at the George Washington University Law School passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism. More than a mere condemnation, the resolution echoed commitments to act that were made by George Washington University President Thomas J. LeBlanc, Law Dean Dayna Bowen Matthew, and SBA President Jordan Michel.
Specifically, the resolution pressed the university to “continue to identify and implement concrete steps to ensure anti-Semitism is not tolerated.” The full text may be found here: J. Res. 7_ Opposing Anti-Semitism Resolution
The Co-Presidents of the Jewish Law Student Association spoke in favor of the resolution on behalf of the law school’s Jewish community. Below is the text of my remarks as a concerned GW Law student.
Hi. I’m Joel Taubman. I am a 2L.
Like the rest of the GW community, I was deeply troubled by the vandalism at TKE. The vandals not only invaded the house a few blocks from the Law School, but chose to target a Torah, the most sacred thing in Judaism after a human life.
The Torah is no minor symbol to the Jewish people. Our commitment to the Torah earned us the nickname: The People of the Book.
The teachings of the Torah sustained the Jewish people during two millennia of exile. Jewish communities from Russia, Poland, and Spain, to Morocco, Ethiopia, Persia, and more all shared in the teachings of this holy book.
The Torah bound Jewish communities together with its wisdom.
In our modern world, the Jewish community continues to take deep lessons from the Torah and apply them to our lives.
Justice Ginsburg’s last book was named after one of the most famous legal commands in the Torah: Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof, Justice Justice You Shall Pursue.
I personally have the words Chazak V’Ematz on my laptop. When Moses was about to die, he repeated a command three times to Joshua. Chazak V’Ematz. Be strong and courageous.
The GW community has responded to these recent tribulations with strength and courage.
In response to the anti-Semitic vandalism at TKE, hundreds took to the streets. We raised our voices to stand up for who we are, while standing shoulder to shoulder with so many allies and friends. We responded to intolerance by showing our pride in our faith.
Yet this was not the only incident of anti-Semitism.
In the past few weeks, it was reported that one student had a swastika slipped under their door.
Another reported that their mezuzah was stolen.
A third student faced minimization of the Holocaust in class.
Just off campus, the local branch of the Sunrise Movement, an environmentalist group, chose to boycott a rally for DC statehood due to the participation of three major Jewish organizations, because they in some way support Israel.
These incidents are, sadly, just the latest in a long history of anti-Semitism in our community and around the country.
But, in the face of all this intolerance, I am encouraged.
I am encouraged by the strength of the vibrant GW community.
I am encouraged by the Hillel, Chabad, and Jewish Law Student Association that all do so much on campus.
I am encouraged by our allies and by the support from campus leaders.
President Leblanc made clear that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated.
Dean Matthew committed to: “look for actions, concrete steps we can take . . . [to] make this a safe community, an inclusive community, & one in which—unequivocally–anti-Semitism is not tolerated.”
SBA President Michel may have said it best when he pledged: “support beyond words.”
I am encouraged by these commitments to find solutions and make real changes to end anti-Semitism.
Finally, I am encouraged by the resolution before the SBA today in support of those commitments to identify actions that we as a community can take towards ending anti-Semitism.
This Resolution is not just words. It is a message that the Law Student Body will hold the University to its commitments.
To paraphrase a quote from the Torah that I mentioned earlier, Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof.
Justice, Justice we shall pursue together.