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Rabbis provide support for Jewish students in response to campus protests

May 1, 2024, 9:28 PM | Updated: 11:06 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — As pro-Palestinian protests intensify across the country, leaders of the Jewish community in the Salt Lake Valley said they are ramping up security at synagogues and hope to deliver a message of peace.

Bryce Katari is Jewish. He’s also one of 250 Jewish students at the University of Utah. He said he stopped by the protest Monday night to see from a distance what was going on.

“Somebody came up to me and they asked me if I was there to protest,” he said. “I simply told them no. They asked me why, I told them I’m Jewish and they yelled in my face ‘nazi.'”

4 U of U students, 1 employee arrested during pro-Palestinian protest

Rabbi Moshe Nigri leads the Chabad on Campus organization at the U — part of a worldwide program to support Jewish university students. He reached out to students Tuesday morning and said dozens went to the Sugarhouse temple to pray. He said coming together helped, along with what he said was an appropriate response from campus police to help the Jewish students feel safe.

“The students felt safer than before and they felt that the future is going to be brighter,” Moshe said.

For Katari, the support from Moshe is important. He said he wants to respect views different than his.

“I feel like they’re trying to speak up for what they believe is right,” Katari said.

To Jewish community centers across the country, the protests are the latest indication of an uptick in antisemitism. The threats mean an added expense for Rabbi Benny Zippel, who said security is expensive. His synagogue also has a surveillance camera.

“Just the fact that we need it is sad enough,” Zippel said.

He said the world is full of opposing sides, but how people disagree is critical.

“I think people should know and really take to heart to disagree better, and once and forever make an extra endeavor to be Godly,” he said.

Zippel said there have not been any incidents at the Chabad Center since October but he sees increased security as something he’ll have here for the foreseeable future.

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Rabbis provide support for Jewish students in response to campus protests