‘We will not be defeated by terror’

Princeton University students hold 'Princeton Stands with Israel' vigil

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"Standing bereft of words, the loss of life is unimaginable," Gitty Webb said at the "Princeton Stands with Israel" vigil on Oct. 12. PHOTO BY LEA KAHN/STAFF

Standing strong with Israel after Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attacks, more than 200 Princeton University students, staff and supporters gathered for a unity vigil for Israel outside the Frist Student Center on campus.

Small blue-and-white Israeli flags fluttered in the breeze, while some students with somber expressions on their faces wrapped themselves in larger Israeli flags at the Oct. 12 vigil.

Photographs of the victims of the Hamas terror attacks, which killed more than 1,300 people in southern Israel, were mounted on small stakes and placed on the ground in front of the speaker’s podium.

“Standing bereft of words, the loss of life is unimaginable,” Gitty Webb said at the “Princeton Stands with Israel” vigil on Oct. 12. PHOTO BY LEA KAHN/STAFF

“Standing bereft of words, the loss of life is unimaginable,” Gitty Webb said at the “Princeton Stands with Israel” vigil. She is the co-director of the Scharf Family Chabad House on campus with her husband, Rabbi Eitan Webb.

“Babies, peace festival goers running for their lives. Grandmothers and couples held hostage. Men, women and children murdered on a (Jewish) holiday,

“When our words fail us, Jewish tradition teaches us to turn to prayer, do good deeds, light a candle and give to charity. We are shattered, but not broken,” she said.

Webb called on students to light candles on a table draped in the Israeli flag – one candle each in memory of the victims, in solidarity with the soldiers, in solidarity with the families of the victims, a candle for the hostages and a candle for attendees who have a connection to Israel.

“Standing bereft of words, the loss of life is unimaginable,” Gitty Webb said at the “Princeton Stands with Israel” vigil on Oct. 12. PHOTO BY LEA KAHN/STAFF
“Standing bereft of words, the loss of life is unimaginable,” Gitty Webb said at the “Princeton Stands with Israel” vigil on Oct. 12. PHOTO BY LEA KAHN/STAFF

Rabbi Gil Steinlauf told the attendees that once again, Jews gather together and draw strength from each other. He is the executive director of Princeton University’s Center for Jewish Life.

“It is hard to wrap one’s mind around it. We can’t fathom it. Again, after the Shoah (Holocaust), how can this be happening,” Steinlauf said.

“We might not have the answer to that question, but what we do have is the wisdom from our Jewish tradition to bring us strength and comfort,

“There are images of violence and depravity in the news, but we must not give in to feelings of despair. Israel is not shattered or broken,

“We, too, are not shattered or broken completely. We can come together tonight. We are a unified community,” Steinlauf said.

Although the attendees are grief-stricken, the rabbi urged them to think of the Jews and non-Jews who are in harm’s way and to pray for them.

The Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel was on the scale of the Holocaust, and it will never be forgotten, said Rabbi Eitan Webb. He co-founded Chabad at Princeton University, which is a focal point for Jewish students.

Jews have always been under attack – from the Spanish Inquisition to exile to the Soviet gulag or work camps and the Nazi concentration camps, Webb said.

“Families are devastated. A barbaric attack on innocent civilians shakes us to our core. But we will not be defeated by terror. When it comes to terror, Jews are an armored tank,” he said.

“We live with truth and integrity as proud members of the Jewish people. Tomorrow, remember – I am a Jew, swift as an eagle, fleet like a deer, strong like a lion,” Webb said.