URBANA, Ill. (WCIA)– People are using music to spread the message of unity. The Illini Jewish community hosted a concert at the Union to raise awareness about anti-semitism and bring the community together. “This is really a way for us to say we are here. We are part of the community,” said Erez Cohen, Executive Director of Hillel at University of Illinois. The U of I Jewish community put on a concert. The main performer was Zusha, a band from New York and the opening act was a student band. “The Jewish community has been struggling with some issues on campus lately, and it’s just an attempt to kind of uplift the spirit of our Jewish students. Remind the campus that it’s accepting of all cultures,” said Cohen.
In 2017, police caught two students breaking the branch of a menorah on campus, and last October, reports said several swastikas were found on campus. Then hundreds of Jewish students protested saying their voices were left out of a resolution to deal with anti-semitism and anti-zionism on campus. “When resolutions like that come to student senate we see a lot of anti-semitic acts on campus,” said Cohen. “It hurts, and you just got to stand tall,” said student Tyler Schwarz. Schwartz says the hate isn’t just on campus. “When I was in New York…someone was stabbed the weekend that I was there at a Hanukkah party, so this is the sort of stuff that we’re dealing with,” said Schwarz.
They’re hoping to unite the community one tune at a time. “I defintely hope the message of peace and loving people resignates, loving every Jew, every non-Jew, everyone of every faith,” said Schwarz. The organizers from the Hillel say this is the first time they have worked to bring Jewish music like this to campus. They serve thousands of Jewish students on U of I’s campus, so they hope this event reminds them they are a part of a community that cares.