To my readers and colleagues...this morning, College Avenue was a war zone. However, there were no bullets fired, no flames spread, no bombs dropped, and no swords drawn. This war was against hatred - but fought with peace, love, and song.
I'm sure a lot of you have heard of the Westboro Baptist Church from Topeka, Kansas (est. 1955). They are a xenophobic and homophobic group that uses the Bible to decree that God hates our troops, homosexuals, Jews, and pretty much everyone else not affiliated with the WBC. They're also known for protesting at funerals of fallen American soldiers and gays - even going so far as to bring signs that read, "Thank God for 9/11" (and just for today, in honor of Rabbi Esther, "Your Rabbi Is A Whore"). As a Christian, I'm disgusted by these people. They use the Word of God to preach hatred and even teach their children to do the same - which is absolutely shameful. Before coming here, this is what they said about us on their website:
"Rutgers Hillel - You have two mascots? God H8s Fags already 93 College Ave Why does New Jersey have to be so friggin' weird about everything? These guys have two mascots at this college. Is that in case one of them is offensive to someone? I'm just sayin'! WBC needs to have a few words with these young people because all of the people who ever had any influence over them - LIED! What did you do that for? Why did you lie to those kids. Oh well, they're all grown up now, so they must find out for themselves that God is NOT a liar, like you told them He is. Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? So, here we come - behave yourselves appropriately, keep your mouths shut, your eyes and ears open. You never know, you might learn something. Praise God! AMEN!"
So anyway, two weeks ago, the WBC contacted the RUPD requesting protection during a protest in front of Rutgers Hillel, the center of Jewish life here on campus. Last week, the Daily Targum announced that they were coming, which spawned countless Facebook events and groups, outraged that these monsters were stepping foot here and rallying students for a peaceful counter-protest. While most places chose to simply ignore the WBC completely, Rutgers Hillel's staff and student leadership decided to create an official counter protest and unite everyone else who had the same thoughts. Unfortunately, I've come down with the flu and had to miss out on the battle this morning, but I did go to Hillel to speak with Rabbi Esther Reed, the Associate Director, and Sam Weiner, an SAS sophomore majoring in Political Science and Jewish Studies. According to them, the WBC announced in spring of this year that they were going to focus on attacking Jews. Today was their big New Jersey day (They went to New Brunswick High School earlier this morning). Seeing as they were already in the area, I suppose they decided that they should also attack Rutgers Hillel - the address for our Jewish students, by culture or religion. Hillel offers religious services and cultural clubs and activities, and ends every Friday night with a dinner (which brings 150 - 300 students every week).
About six protestors from the WBC stood on the corner of College Avenue and Mine Street with their signs of hatred. They probably wanted to stand right in front of Hillel, but I don't think they were expecting 1,200 PEOPLE (students, people from CNN, and other kind souls; according to the RUPD) to be standing against them. Included in the counter protest were peaceful signs (and many random ones), diversity statements, and performances by Shockwave, Deep Treble, Livingston Theatre Company, and Kol Halayla, a Jewish a'capella group. The end result? As well as the WBC coming earlier than expected, they left much earlier as well. By ignoring their hatred with our fellowship, I'm sure the WBC knew they were wasting their time here.
v Look at this... v
Rabbi Reed wants to express her happiness with uniting the RU Community and appreciates the massive support that Hillel had this morning. Sam says that this is a great opportunity for future partnerships with other RU groups, and states that Hillel would be happy to support any of our students under attack. Once again, I would like to thank them for their time and the pictures they have provided. Please remember that next week is Hillel's "Days Without Hate" program - so think about what you say before you say it, and to make www.goodsearch.com your homepage - a search engine that donates a penny to a charity of your choice every time you run a search! To donate to Hillel, just type in "rutgers hillel" in the "Who Do You Goodsearch For?" part of the webpage. Also, feel free to visit Rutgers Hillel at www.rutgershillel.org.
As for me, I'm proud to be a Rutgers student after this...I'm sure that the possibilities with a school united are endless. I mean, we were on CNN. CNN! My dad watches CNN. Look: http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-347622.
v Pledge Of Allegiance v
v Shockwave v
v 2nd Reformed Church (across the street from Hillel) lending support v
v Counter-Protest itinerary (on a bedsheet) v
v TRUTH v
v YES v
Me: "Rabbi Reed, Why do you think the WBC left so early? Were they scared of us?
Rabbi Reed: "Well, David, they have a busy schedule. Lots of hating to do."
v BEATLES REFERENCE WIN v
v Iota Phi Theta v
v WHO WE BE v
v All day, every day, RU RAH RAH! v
v You're welcome! <3 v