‘I can’t even explain the emotion’: Virginia Tech Jewish students mourn after Israel attack

Hillel, the Jewish student organization, will have additional resources for students

BLACKSBURG, VA – Many Jewish students at Virginia Tech come to Hillel, the Jewish student organization.

In the wake of the Israel attacks, students told 10 News the community means more than ever.

“Asking if someone’s alive. I can’t even explain the emotion and how physically hard it is to type those words. And then every second you wait for that response is a year,” Vice President of Religion and Culture at VT Hillel Ethan Werner said.

Unbelievable heartbreak. That’s what Werner said he’s feeling after learning of the attacks on Israel.

”I just can’t even begin to express how difficult it is, the not knowing. It’s hard for me, it’s hard for every other member of the Jewish community,” Werner said.

Werner said he’s all too familiar with this type of pain. He was a member of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 people were killed in a mass shooting.

”I’ve been through this type of grieving before and it was a really, really hard time. And now it’s not just 11 community members, it’s hundreds, it’s thousands,” he said.

Amanda Herring is the Executive Director of Hillel at Virginia Tech. She said she’s striving to give students a place where they can safely grieve.

”To walk around campus as I’ve heard from students and just see things going on as usual. With classes going and their friends talking about exams, and to feel like you’re in an alternate reality. They need this community, they need this space,” Herring said.

Herring said they’re bringing in counselors and social workers to speak with struggling students.

The most important thing is to have a place where you can talk, where people understand,” Herring said.

Hillel is hosting a Vigil on Wednesday at 7:30 to show support and pray for the victims in Israel. You must RSVP online ahead of time. There will be security present, and an additional zoom option.

About the Author:

Abbie Coleman officially joined the WSLS 10 News team in January 2023.