The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion We must turn the tide on antisemitism

Stephanie Lyons at her home on Dec. 26 in Stoneham, Mass. Her youngest child found swastikas on their front lawn. (Tony Luong for The Washington Post)

The Jan. 4 front-page article “Family wakes up to signs of hate in own front yard” raised a point that is unequivocally true: Acts of antisemitism are on the rise.

We — as a country and as humans — must not let this hate continue to fester and spread. We must turn the tide on antisemitism. And we, as a university president and a rabbi leading one of the largest Jewish campus communities in the country, believe our campus — and others like it — is a perfect place to start.

Some might call universities ivory towers, but college campuses are laboratories for social activism, training grounds for democratic principles, and makerspaces for new ideas and innovations. We are diverse, and we are vibrant. Where else but on a college campus can you find programs focused on Jewish studies, institutes dedicated to the study of and research on Israel, and opportunities to engage directly dozens of student-run groups? We have learned that when social events coexist with academic learning — an intersection found on college campuses — there are opportunities to eradicate hate and antisemitism in new and different ways.

College campuses should be places where Judaism and Jewish identity can be celebrated. Places that recruit, welcome and support students of all backgrounds — and shout from the top of academic buildings, residence halls and student unions: “All are welcome here, and we are stronger together.” In doing so, we believe we can have a positive ripple effect on society, where the next generation of leaders can work toward building a better future for us all. We encourage other universities to join us in this effort and work toward building a more peaceful world.

Darryll J. Pines, College Park

The writer is president of the University of Maryland.

Ari Israel, Silver Spring

The writer is a rabbi and executive director of Maryland Hillel.