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Vandalism at the Perelman Center: Help Us Replace Hate with Joy


Jewish life at Drexel is strong and vibrant and growing by the day.  Students spend hours at the Perelman Center studying, engaging in Jewish learning, deepening friendships, asking big questions and celebrating Shabbat and holidays together. This year so far over 550 Jewish undergraduates students have participated in Jewish life with Hillel, and nearly 1000 total students and young alumni  have participated in Hillel programming and events this year.  Anyone who has had the pleasure to visit our campus Jewish community knows that being Jewish at Drexel, even in these challenging times, is a source of great joy and pride for our students.

Unfortunately on March 29th, just before sunrise,  a group of people woke up, grabbed their hoodies and masked, jumped in a car and drove to the Raymond G. Perelman Center for Jewish Life at Drexel University, and vandalized the center of Jewish community on our beloved campus.  This violation shook our community’s sense of welcome and safety to the core.  Our building is on a public street in a dense urban neighborhood, and while we may feel safe within our Drexel community, the events of the 29th reminded us painfully that there are many in our city who wish to do us harm. 

We must respond to that hate by choosing joy.  We must choose to lean into Jewish joy, and  stubbornly insist that our joy and celebration of Jewish life will not be stifled or stymied by hate.

President Fry has already demonstrated his unwavering support for our Jewish students. The University as an institution has already demonstrated their commitment to our community. Our chief Diversity Officer Kim Ghoulston and her staff visited the Perelman Center this week bringing sweet treats and messages of support and welcome.  University facilities and public safety are repairing our sign, continuously improving security, and doggedly searching out those who violated our campus. 

Now I am asking you to respond to these vandals.  What the vandals ripped down in a demonstration of their hate,  I am inviting you to help replace, with a demonstration of welcome and support that all of our Jewish community can see and feel.  

There are 51 letters in the sign on the front of the Perelman Center and today I am hoping that 51 people from our broad Drexel family will step up to purchase a letter to symbolically re-install that sign and help us raise the funds to ensure that Jewish life at Drexel will continue to be vibrant, supportive and joyful and that those who try to tear it down will be met with the steadfast resolve of a community that chooses love, and joy and welcoming over hate.

I hope you can join us in this campaign, and I hope that you’ll go further by choosing other ways to spread joy, love and learning. Study Torah, watch a great Jewish film, make plans to celebrate Shabbat dinner, send a note of love and support to someone you know who is in our Drexel Jewish community. I want anyone who might choose vandalism or violence to know that our whole community – Jewish students, parents, faculty and alumni, and our friends well beyond the Jewish community – will stand up and continue to affirm that despite the acts of these vandals Jews are welcome at Drexel, and vibrant Jewish campus life is a source of strength, joy and pride for our entire Drexel community.


With Blessings of Peace and Resilience,

Rabbi Isabel