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Elon Hillel sends messages of support to peers at Harvard

by Rachel Southmayd,
  • Protestors from the Westboro Baptist Church met with counter protests of religious tolerance and equality when they marched on the Hillel organization at Harvard University. Elon’s Hillel contributed signs and banners shipped overnight to the counter-protest. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Link.

  • Photo courtesy of Chelsea Link.

On Friday, Dec. 3, a group of protestors from the Westboro Baptist Church, an organization famous for its anti-gay, anti-Semitic protests at locations like schools and the funerals of US soldiers, held a demonstration outside the Hillel House at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Also present at this rally were signs and banners from the Hillel of Elon University.

When student leaders at Harvard found out about WBC's planned protest, they reached out to other colleges and universities.

Last Monday, members of Elon's Hillel gathered to answer the call, creating signs and banners, one of which was 15 feet long, to ship overnight to Harvard, The costs were underwritten by the Truitt Center for Spiritual and Religious Life.

"We're really just trying to spread the love," said senior Zach Jordan, a Hillel board member and the Truitt Center intern for interfaith cooperation.

The signs had messages like "Elon loves Harvard Hillel" and images of crosses, hearts and stars of David.

Sophomore Hillel chair for Social Justice Rachel Stanley said she believes the message of intolerance that WBC tries to spread is counterproductive.

"We're trying to prove that that kind of stuff has no place," she said.

According to the Harvard Crimson, the school's student newspaper, students at Harvard planned a "Surprise Absurdity Protest" to counter the anti-Semitic message of the WBC. Harvard has some experience with this group; they held a similar event there last spring.

In an e-mail from Harvard Hillel board member Lilli Margolin, thanks were given to Elon's Hillel for their support. She said the protest itself became more of a celebration of diversity, and that the six lone members of the WBC that came were barely noticed.

According to its website, the Topeka, Kan., based WBC blames the deaths of soldiers on the sins of homosexuality in America, and blames Jews for the death of Jesus, claiming all "Elect Jews" should repent for their lives of sin. Their anti-Semitic protests include signs with messages like "God hates Israel" and "God hates Jews."