Hillel hosts vigil for Paris terrorist attack victims

Jan. 12, 2015, 2:49 p.m.
Students and staff held a vigil at Hillel House on Friday commemorating the victims of recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Students and staff of Stanford’s Koret Pavillion-Taube Hillel House hosted a vigil on Friday night to commemorate the victims of a recent string of terrorist attacks in Paris.

The 20 or so participants held signs with messages such as “more expression, less aggression” as they opened the vigil by gathering in a circle and singing od yavo shalom aleinu, a traditional prayer for peace.  After the song, candles were lit to welcome in the Shabbat, and the vigil-goers said a Hebrew blessing.  This was followed by a moment of silence.

According to Doria Charlson ’13, former Jewish Student Association president, the version of the od yavo shalom aleinu sang at the vigil used the Arabic salaam rather than the more known Hebrew word, shalom, in the refrain of the song.

“It is particularly appropriate to approach these tragedies with a Jewish perspective, but really be thinking about a greater threat to humanity,” Charlson said.

The vigil was held in order to honor the four people who have died in the shooting of a kosher supermarket in Paris on Friday morning and to honor all victims of terrorism.

Of the four suspects in the recent terrorist attacks, brothers Said and Chérif Kouachi and their associate, Amedy Coulibaly, have been killed in shooting exchanges with police, and one suspect, Hayat Boumeddiene, remains at large. Collectively, the four suspects are accused of killing 17 people, the bloodiest terror attack in France in the past fifty years.

The Kouachi’s allegedly killed 12 staff members at “Charlie Hebdo,” a French satirical magazine, on Wednesday.

Coulibaly allegedly open fired on police officers on Thursday, killing one, before shooting 4 hostages in the kosher market on Friday. Boumedienne is believed to have accompanied Coulibaly.

At the Hillel vigil, there was less a focus on the shooters or the sequencing of the events than a focus on healing and addressing non-tolerance.

Heather Paul, the Director of Student Engagement at Hillel, said that Hillel staff “felt like people are upset about this and we need a space to get together and talk about this together and grieve about this together.”

Charlson expressed a similar feeling.

“Hillel has always been here as a safe space,” Charlson said. “When Westboro Baptist Church came to campus, it became a place of greater solace and community. It’s not out of the ordinary for Hillel to host this sort of commemoration and especially ones that affect the Jewish community.”

At the end of the vigil on Friday, attendees were invited to the weekly Shabbat dinner.

According to Liana Kadisha ’15, the vigil attracts a wider community because it is “not politically charged; there’s no agenda behind it. It is recognizing the hatred and the absence of tolerance, and that means a lot to people not only from the Jewish community, but from others as well.”

Contact Ada Throckmorton at adastat ‘at’ stanford.edu

Ada Statler '18 is an earth systems major hailing from Kansas City (on the Kansas side, not Missouri). She's most passionate about environmental journalism, but cares about all things campus-related.

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