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Jewish students and community members stand united at Students Supporting Israel event

Matthew Lodge, president of Students Supporting Israel, organized the event to facilitate a community at Miami, standing in solidarity for the lives lost during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Matthew Lodge, president of Students Supporting Israel, organized the event to facilitate a community at Miami, standing in solidarity for the lives lost during the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Maya Nathan, a senior at Miami University, initially heard the devastating news of Israel’s invasion Saturday morning when she was visiting her family. The trip turned into something tragic in the blink of an eye.

She said her family was frantically texting cousins, family and friends, only to receive worse news when she turned on the TV where she saw images of people being taken and killed.

“These horrifying scenes feel like a movie, not real life,” Nathan said. “Today more than ever, regardless of our fears, we must stand tall and say with our heads held high that we are proud to stand in support of Israel.”

On Oct. 9, more than 100 people gathered around the Miami Seal to bring attention to the events happening in Israel as well as to honor the 900 dead Israeli people.

The Miami University Police Department (MUPD) was there to provide security for the event.

The Stand with Israel event was in response to the terrorist organization Hamas launching thousands of missiles at Israel and invading the country’s cities the morning of Oct. 7. Many of the attendees had a personal connection to these attacks and were visibly mourning the loss of loved ones, friends and strangers.

“We're here as a community to stand in solidarity with the brothers and sisters in the area and to reject terrorism in all its forms. Let this horrible event bring us together,” Matthew Lodge, president of Students Supporting Israel (SSI), said. “We should not accept this as normal, and this is not a Jewish issue. This is a conflict that defines the humanity of man and the dignity of a person. Let us rise from this event, stronger together as a community, as a people and as a nation. When the dust settles, we shall remain.”

Maya Mehlman, the president of Miami's Chabad chapter, said a few words about standing as one after the attacks, as did the Dean of Students BaShaun Smith.

“On behalf of [the Office of] Student Life, I just want to let you all know that we are here for every last student that's going through it,” Smith said. "Please don’t let the emotions pile up, we have our counseling center here for you, we have our faculty here for you [and] our staff.”

Other participants said a few words, many through tears as they recounted their experience over the past 48 hours.

During Rabbi Yossi Greenberg’s speech, one student tried to speak on behalf of Palestine. More than 600 people in Palestine, including 33 minors, have been killed by Israeli forces in response to Saturday’s attacks as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war on Hamas.

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Many in the crowd yelled for the MUPD officers to remove the student, which they did after three to four minutes of yelling.

“We are going to stand in the heart of Miami University of Ohio and yell and say Jewish blood is not cheap,” Greenberg said. “We've seen enough, we've had enough. We deserve some peace. We deserve some quiet. Men and women are strong. Our family is strong. Our community is strong. Our nation is strong. Our people are strong.”

The event continued with the lighting of nine candles, each one representing 100 of the Israeli and Jewish victims who have passed away, a short prayer from the Torah by Rabbi Greenberg and a prayer for the wounded soldiers.

The event ended with a moment of silence followed by a peaceful walk around the block led by Lodge.

“We don't hide our Star of David, we don't hide our flags [and] we don't hide our yarmulkes,” Greenberg said. “We're going to walk around with our chin up because our community is strong, and our people are strong, and we don't care because we did nothing wrong, and we are going to stand up for what it means to be Jewish, and we're going to stand up for our people because we're here.”

Additional reporting by Assistant Campus and Community Editors Kasey Turman and Megan McConnell.