Warriors Band Together Against Anti-Semitism

Standing strong, no matter the distance, the Woodbridge community counters recent anti-Semitic events


Photo Courtesy of Lian Benasuly

Students counter recent anti semitic events in Woodbridge and beyond.

It is no secret that racism and hate exist in the world, but when that hate is targeted at your own community, the pain hits home. For many in the Jewish community, the Pittsburgh shooting that took the lives of 11 people during a morning service served as a painful reminder of the still existing anti-Semitism in this country of freedom.

“It was heartbreaking and really sad that it was a reality,” sophomore and Vice President of Jew Crew club Maya Arenson said.

As news spread throughout the Woodbridge community, students from various organizations took action against the hateful actions.

Shortly after the Pittsburgh tragedy, Woodbridge High’s Jew Crew club brainstormed ways to support families of the shooting from across the nation.

“Our board decided that we should write letters to the families in Pittsburgh,”  Arenson said. “We used our next club meeting and we all just got a bunch of letters and talked about what happened.”

Collectively, the Jew Crew club wrote over 40 meaningful letters.

“I thought because we couldn’t be there [and] because it’s far away, it would be nice to show our support in another way and let them know that people have their back, that they’re not alone,” Arenson said.

Sadly, less than a week after the shooting occurred, another attack on the Jewish community took place. Anti-Semitic vandalism targeted Temple Beth Jacob, a synagogue located only two and a half miles away from Woodbridge High.

“ I found out [about the vandalism] in my math class with my sister and my friend, who is also Jewish. When we saw [the news] our jaws dropped,” senior and Israeli Scout Lian Benasuly said. “I was just so angry.”

Though no one suffered injuries from the vandalism, this act of anti-Semitism conveyed a hurtful message.

Photo Courtesy of Lian Benasuly
Students pledge to counter anti semitism with a hand printed banner.

“Some people think that vandalism isn’t that big of a deal, but it still shows that there is anti-Semitism in a city that is supposed to be really safe and open to everyone,” Benasuly said.

Both Benasuly and Harmony are active members on Act.IL, an app promoting accurate news surrounding Israel and removing articles from the internet that show prejudice to the Israeli community. After the vandalism to Temple Beth Jacob, Act.IL members gathered to discuss how to respond to this incident.

“We decided we were going to do a mural so that not just Jews or Israelis have support, but so that everyone can be loved and supported,” junior and Israeli Scout Eden Harmony said.

On Veterans Day at Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School, a private Jewish school in Irvine, dozens of students attended the creation of the mural, writing words of kindness in support of members of Temple Beth Jacob.

Maya Arenson, Lian Benasuly and Eden Harmony, along with many other Woodbridge High students, emerged from the hatred that permeated their community with support and compassion for the local and national Jewish community.

“It was nice to know that I did something and I could help someone. It’s a good feeling,” Arenson said. “I think we were just all happy that we had each other.”