Over 200 students gathered Monday night at Lehigh Chabad to show solidarity for Israeli citizens and those affected by recent terrorist attacks in Israel. The event was hosted by Lehigh Hillel, Tamid, Challah for Hunger and Alpha Epsilon Pi.
Rabbi Zalman Greenberg said close to 1,000 men and women have been killed, with thousands more injured in Israel.
He said Monday evening’s event was about making a big difference together and how every single good deed makes an impact.
“It is critical that we are all crystal clear,” Greenberg said. “These overt acts of barbarism against blameless civilians (are) a crime against all of humanity. This is perpetrated by the horrible group of pure evil by the Hamas terrorist organization that needs to be eradicated.”
During the service, Lehigh Chabad President Isaac Curley, ’25, lit a memorial candle — a symbolization for the light of hope the Jewish nation has sustained throughout history — for all of the innocent men, women and children. Rabbi Steve Nathan, director of Jewish life and director of Hillel, also led the recitation of Psalms.
Zach Weiser, ’25, vice president of AEPi and co-president of Lehigh Hillel, said he did not expect so many people to show up to the event.
Weiser said his sister, who lives in Tel Aviv, had her first experience with rockets this week, something he hoped she would never have to go through. He said he was shocked to hear how calm she sounded on the phone.
He said many of his friends who completed their army service in the Israel Defense Forces were looking forward to starting their lives, but now nearly all of them have been drafted.
“Rather than being frightened, there’s a strong sense of pride for fighting (for) what they believe in,” Weiser said. “After seeing many pictures of them with their units back together reunited, you can see it on each of their smiling faces, how proud they are to be able to fight for their country.”
Oren Roznitsky, ’24, a student representative of Lehigh Hillel, said he spoke to his cousin in the IDF who was called to the frontline.
“I texted him and he texted me back,” Roznitsky said. “I just got chills because that meant that he was alive. I want to be able to say that tomorrow and the next day, too.”
Roznitsky said the extension of the Jewish community in America is important.
“A community like this is gonna win a f****** war,” Roznitsky said.
Rebecca Weissman, ’25, president of Tamid, said her cousin is now serving in a lead command troop unit outside of Tel Aviv, currently living in a bomb shelter.
“I spoke to him today,” Weissman said. “He texted me, ‘My backpack is ready. I will be drafted. My wife will also be drafted. She likes to pack last minute but we are ready for anything.’”
She also shared a video clip from her Birthright Israel leader who encouraged family and friends to check in on one another.
The leader listed the names of Israeli organizations in need, including friends in the IDF; The Michael Levin Lone Soldier Center, named after a soldier raised in Bucks County; United Hatzalah, one of the ambulance services in Israel; ZAKA, a paramedic service; and Magen David Adom, also known as the Red Star of David, a main medical organization.
Greenberg shared a video from his childhood friend, Major Ezzy Morganstern, who serves in the IDF.
“I’m here to tell you a message today. I want to let you know that all the students of Lehigh and all the Jews around the world let you know that we hear your prayers. We feel your concerns. We know you’re with us. Every good deed. Every smile, every positive message passed on. We feel it and it helps us and it’s pushing us and motivating us,” Morganstern said.
Greenberg also shared an audio recording of Morganstern after Greenberg texted him, sharing Morganstern’s current living conditions.
Morganstern said he hasn’t showered, has been living off of a few cans of tuna and some crackers, is counting down the hours asleep on one hand, and sleeps in the middle of the street.
Dit Greenberg, the rabbi’s wife, requested a prayer for the safety of the IDF soldiers, for those who were kidnapped, and the soldiers that are now entering Gaza. The service ended with Zalman Greenberg’s recitation of the Shema, the main Jewish prayer.
In an email sent to the campus community following the event, Ric Hall, vice president for student affairs; Cheryl Matherly, vice president and vice provost for international affairs; and Donald Outing, vice president for equity & community,;addressed the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel.
They wrote their thoughts and support are with those both directly and indirectly impacted by the war.
“While no Lehigh students are currently studying abroad in Israel, we have a small number of students and scholars from the region, as well as alumni, and we know that many more members of our community have personal connections to this part of the world,” Hall, Matherly and Outing wrote in the email.
They wrote anyone experiencing anxiety or stress as a result of the violence should contact the University Counseling and Psychological Services or TELUS Health Student Support, formerly known as MySSP.