Just as Israel has banned BDS supporters from entering the country and demonizes those who show dissent, Hillel has sent a message to Jewish students that it only recognizes a certain type of Jew, and sees the rest of us as disposable.
By Ally Fernandez
I am exactly the kind of Jew whom Naftali Bennett thinks should not exist. I am a proud, Puerto Rican, feminist, Jewish woman of color who stands in solidarity with Palestine and supports the call for BDS. I am the product of an interfaith and interracial marriage, a strong Ashkenazi mama and an amazing Boricua dad, making me fully Puerto Rican and Jewish, not fractions of either.
I grew up in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, where I knew very few Jews outside my family. When I began my freshman year at Vassar College in New York state, I immersed myself in the Vassar Jewish Union, our campus Hillel chapter. Having spent my life on an island that faces deep economic and social crises, and which grapples with lack of sovereignty and the legacy of colonization, my gut reaction when hearing about the Palestinian cause differed from that of my Jewish classmates. But luckily for me, in the spring of 2014 — before I arrived — the Vassar Jewish Union (Vassar College Hillel) became one of the first Hillels to officially ‘open’ and drop Hillel International’s exclusionary “Standards of Partnership.”
While I am still often placed on the outside of my Jewish community due to my racial and class-based experiences of Judaism and my political views, my experiences with the VJU have enabled me to access Jewish communal resources and have furthered my commitment to Judaism and open discourse. And I have had the opportunity to learn so much more than I ever could from the narrow view that Hillel International currently promotes.
Throughout my years at Vassar, I’ve learned about Jewish history, religion, and traditions, and formed friendships with Jewish students with a range of experiences and viewpoints. I’ve engaged in some of the hardest and most productive conversations here, right in our Bayit and through the lens of my Jewish identity. I am a leader in my campus chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, and have worked on campaigns with Students for Justice in Palestine and other student of color-led movements for BDS and Palestinian human rights.
In short, I am deeply engaged...Read More