By Ava Castelli

For Mitzpeh


Assistant Director of Student Life at Maryland Hillel Dawn Savage, speaking at Spin Love, Not Hate. Photo by Ava Castelli

The bleachers in Ritchie Coliseum were nearly overflowing as around 300 of this university’s students and faculty from the Jewish community and other multicultural groups packed in to attend Spin Love, Not Hate, an event focused on antisemitism and hate crimes.

This university’s Hillel, which hosted the event on the final night of Hanukkah, sought to bring together the UMD community and raise awareness of antisemitism and hate that has been displayed on and off-campus. 

The event, which had about 60 cosponsors, had tables set up along the bleachers, guest speakers and a menorah lighting. It ended with dreidel spinning and traditional Hanukkah food, along with music from a live DJ. One of Hillel’s goals for the event had been to have a record-breaking number of dreidels spun at once.

Guest speaker Dawn Collins, the mother of 1st Lieutenant Richard Collins III, spoke at the event in efforts to promote change and prevent hate crimes from happening. Her son was a black student at Bowie State University who was murdered on this campus, right outside Montgomery Hall in 2017, by a UMD student.

Collins, who received a standing ovation after her speech, reminded students that if they hear something, to say something because hate can happen at any time and place.

“When you hear a racist or antisemitic comment as a joke, speak up,” Collins said.

Among other speakers was University President Darryll Pines, who supported the effort in stopping antisemitism and hate crimes on and off-campus. 

“We will take action against any hate crime. All of us cannot turn a blind eye to any of our diverse groups on campus,” Pines said.

Rabbi Ari Koretzky, of Meor Maryland, attended the event as one of the cosponsors and a member of the Jewish community.

“It is powerful to see that we as a Jewish community can still come together and unite for an important cause, and can do so in a spirit of celebration. The world is too fractured – and sadly that extends to our own community,” Koretzky said.

The event gave students the chance to hear from several speakers about how the community needs to come together in order to stop antisemitism and hate crimes from the start. Speakers including Maryland Hillel director Ari Israel talked about antisemitism the Jewish community faces, even being such a large population at UMD.

Another speaker, Meredith Weisel of the Anti-Defamation League, shared statistics about antisemitism to point out that it isn’t as uncommon as some may have thought.

She noted that surveys have shown about one-third of Jewish students have experienced acts of antisemitism directed towards them in the past year. Another 31% of students have even witnessed antisemitic activity occurring and not even to themselves, she reported.

“I think the showing of last night shows the community coming together and being strong,” Dawn Savage, the assistant director of student life at this university’s Hillel, said after the event. Savage was one of the primary organizers of the event.

Though the world record for most dreidels spun was a few short from being broken, the community was still able to come together to celebrate Hanukkah and unity at Spin Love, Not Hate.


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