Union College Chabad victim of antisemitic act on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Michael Rosenbaum, News Editor

On the night of January 27, according to Chabad at Union and Union College Bias Awareness, Support and Education Team, a skeleton was placed in the front yard of the Chabad House in what was allegedly an antisemitic attack on Chabad. In the wake of this event, Chabad has since hosted a well attended Shabbat service, Chabad was visited by President David Harris the following Monday. Chabad has since begun a four class course on antisemitism for interested students.

On January 27, Holocaust Rememberance Day, a skeleton was placed on the Chabad property sometime in the night by two individuals. The incident was reported to Campus Safety, with whom a bias incident report has been filed and Schenectady Police Department, who are currently investigating the event.

Chabad is an independent Jewish student association with a chapter at Union College based on Seward Place, where the skeleton was placed. The date when the skeleton was left on the Chabad property was also Holocaust Rememberance Day, a day which is in memorial of victims of antisemitism. The placement of a skeleton on the property is therefore even more egregious. The skeleton placed at Chabad was allegedly taken from the porch of Iris House, which is also on Seward Place. Following the incident on January 27, Chabad hosted a well attended Shabbat dinner. A four part course on antisemitism is also being hosted by Chabad and began on Wednesday, February 2. 

Details of the incident were made public at the discretion of Chabad. However, according to Union College, there is no evidence the perpetrators are members of Union College. In the insitial email from the Bias Awareness Team, it was indicated that Union College was notified of the skeleton by Chabad in the morning of January 28. A police report was filed the same morning according to Chabad, in addition to the bias incident report. The Schenectady Police Department is currently leading the investigation. The incident was captured by video, which is how information, including the number of people involved in the event, and the allegation they were laughing as they placed the skeleton, both facts stated in the email about the event from Chabad, are known. In response to the event, Chabad stated, “our response to this act of hate is to stand tall and proud in our Jewish identity. We will respond by increasing our focus on acts of goodness and kindness, and understanding of one another.”

This is not the first incident of antisemitic actions being taken against Chabad. On Tuesday, May 18, 2021, Chabad’s Rabbi Shmuly Rubin was harassed verbally by a passenger of a car driving down Seward Pl, who had shouted “f––k you Jew” at him. Laiky Rubin, co-director of Chabad, explained in a statement to the Concordiensis that this was “the first personal antisemitic experience” in Chabad’s 13+ years in Schenectady.

In their email to the campus community, the Bias Awareness, Support, Education Team said, “Union College condemns acts of antisemitism and includes prohibitions on religious-based discrimination in… the Student Handbook. We stand in support of our friends at Chabad.” The President’s Office sent an email spreading the details of the incident to the entire campus for the first time and promised coordination with the police and programming to combat antisemitism on campus. In addition to events held by Chabad, Union’s Office for Intercultural Affairs has advertised a number of events including an identity dialogue about Jewish students on March 1 titled “Do All Jewish Students Think the Same,” a companion to another dialogue on black women. Additionally, an interfaith dinner, hosted by Hillel is planned for March 4.