Hundreds join with Virginia Tech Jewish community to fight hate

By Rob Manch - Reporter

BLACKSBURG (WSLS 10) - Hundreds gathered at Virginia Tech Monday evening to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community in Blacksburg.

Over the weekend, someone littered the lawn of the Jewish Center at the University with hand-drawn Swastikas.

The rally was held outside the Graduate Life Center on campus.

The goal was to support the Jewish community in their time of need, but to also show that for every one act

of hatred, there are hundreds of people in the Blacksburg community who will oppose it.

Senior and Jewish student Sadie Gary says she was sick when she learned what someone had done at her school's Jewish Center Saturday afternoon.

"To see this kind of a hate crime happen on our campus, a place that we consider to be home and that we have called home for now four years is honestly just shocking and saddening," said Gary.

Jewish Center Director Zvi Zweibel says he was the first to discover the mess.

"Some despicable individual came and decided to litter the whole front yard with hand-drawn Swastikas," said Zweibel.

An act meant to highlight a divide in the community, but instead, it did just the opposite.

"The perpetrators of this action hoped to divide us, but they only succeeded in uniting us," said Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands, speaking before the crowd.

"It just means the world to us that, when something like this happens in a community that is so diverse that we all show up together to support each other," said Senior and Jewish student Rachel Berman.

Gary says, she showed up Monday, because while today, it's her minority being persecuted, tomorrow, it could be somebody else.

"This isn't just about a group of Jews. This is a, this happened last year with the Muslim community at Virginia Tech, they were threatened and we all came out and we stood together. We are not a divided community, we are an inclusive community, and we do not stand for this kind of action to our friends and neighbors," said Gary.

This is the first time that the Jewish Center has been the victim of a hate act after eight years of operating on-campus, so they see this as an isolated incident.

But even so, Zweibel says it's encouraging to see this level of support in the Virginia Tech community.

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