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Hope & Understanding for 2024

As we prepare for a new year, we pause to reflect on the past—and look toward the future with hope and understanding. Carmel Raviv is a Sophomore at UC Davis, where she is a member of the Hillel House community. She wrote this letter to share her thoughts on Jewish identity and culture—and how we can support each other during these challenging times. 

My favorite aspect of Jewish Identity is how I identify with other Jewish people. The Jewish Culture and Peoplehood spans thousands of years due to the diaspora, extending to several different countries—but we still light Shabbat candles at the same time, say the same prayers, and feel the same pride, joy, and groundedness. We can relate to each other on our family values, rugged history, and of course, Jewish Geography.

The best way to support your Jewish friends is to reach out and ask questions. It doesn’t even have to be a promise of unwavering support, just checking in to show that you care about your friend’s well-being goes a long way.

Your Jewish friends are not actors in a political debate, they are real people who can’t help being Jewish, and when they see people being vocal about how much they hate them for it, it’s extremely mentally challenging. Friends who have reached out with open-ended questions like “How have recent events made you feel?”, and given me space to speak about my experience, have made me feel more valued and more safe than any Instagram infographic.

If you have Jewish friends, you don’t need to speak, you just need to listen. And it might surprise you what they have to say.

My one wish is for people to see nuance in every situation. Simplified slogans and polarizing statements rooted in anger have manipulated our worldview, resulting in a tense, divided society. The tension on campuses and around the world is not normal.

But I still see a future where we rise up. Where we don’t take the validity of one existence as mutually exclusive with the other. Where we recognize when we’re using inflammatory language, and know it’s okay to be proven wrong even if we believed something for a long time. Where we treat each other with kindness.

Carmel Raviv, Sophomore at UC Davis

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