Rabbi Reed of Rutgers Hillel: University needs to take strong stand on antisemitism

Rabbi Esther Reed, listed as the chief experience officer at the influential Rutgers Hillel, is greatly troubled by the recent rise of antisemitic actions at the university.

She calls them harassing and intimidating and — since she’s not a Rutgers University employee — Reed is willing to say it publicly.

Rabbi Esther Reed.

Reed told ROI-NJ about incidents where members of a popular Jewish fraternity were hit by eggs while having slurs yelled at them, how protests written in chalk were done in areas where they shouldn’t have been, how pictures of hostages have been ripped down and members of her community screamed at in public — being accused of telling lies.

She showed ROI-NJ documentation of the allegations.

“We have reported every single incident as a bias incident,” she said. “We have expressed our concerns about students feeling intimidated, harrassed and uncomfortable.

“All of this is violating the university’s responsibility to provide a safe educational environment.”

Reed said her concern involves the entirety of the campus. She said many don’t understand how connected Rutgers students are to the war between Israel and Gaza.

“We have students who are directly impacted,” she said. “They have family and friends in Israel. They are Israeli citizens. Many of the hostages are college-aged students; some of our students are actually friends with some of the hostages. There was a Rutgers alum who was released.”

She also is calling for more transparency.

“If someone has violated university rules, and there is a bias proceeding or a student conduct proceeding, they should inform the complainants to say, ‘We can’t tell you the process, but we can’t tell you we are moving forward with the investigation,’” she said. “They should be able to communicate back to the victims to say this is the status update.”

Instead, Reed said, interactions are vague.

“I can tell you that, when our student leaders had a conversation with a university administrator and all of these incidents were explained, the students walked away from the conversation saying, ‘Basically, we’re waiting for someone to get hurt before the university is going to take action,’” she said.