NYU hosts inclusive vigil for recent losses

Kristen Burns, Contributing Writer

Students, faculty and community members gathered for a small vigil in the Kimmel Center for University Life on Monday night to grieve for the tragedies that occurred in the United States and the Middle East over the past summer.

Event sponsors included the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs, the LGBTQ Student Center, the Islamic Center, the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life and the Protestant Network.

The Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life organized members of the NYU community connected to the events, asking for volunteers to speak or to simply attend. Co-president of the Black Student Union Andre Ross, Palestinian Leila Suboh, Israeli Bar Gison and several chaplains spoke at the vigil.

Senior director of GCASL Yael Shy said students felt a need to come together to mourn the tragedies in the last few months.

“We have been hearing a lot about the loss of life from the events that were happening in Syria, Iraq, Israel and Palestine; Chicago, New York and Ferguson,” Shy said. “There was a particular kind of connection between people who were feeling that they were being persecuted because of their religion or skin color, and people who lie at the intersection of these different identities.”

Ross spoke of his hometown, Gary, Indiana, and said the amount of crime makes him feel numb.

“When did life become less precious?” Ross said. “I am here to take a stand in unity with you and the world in a vigil for peace.”

Suboh spoke of her friend’s firsthand view of the terrors of living in and around Gaza during times of war, and Catholic priest Allen White proclaimed that the violence and bloodshed need to stop.

Near the end of the vigil, four chaplains took the stage to give prayers and wisdom. The group shared a moment of silence and Shy closed with an idea to move from a place of sorrow to a place of action in the future in order to create a better world.

CAS senior Tamar Maccalan-Finkelman said she was saddened by the stories.

“It was very sad to hear about what happened over the summer,” Maccalan-Finkelman said. “It was helpful to hear about situations that aren’t a part of everyday life here in the U.S.”

Community member Hanana Younus said she came to the vigil to mourn oppression.

“I came not only because I am Muslim but because I am a human being,” Younus said. “Islam stands for peace, and we are told to stand up for justice wherever it is. I liked this idea of bringing together all kinds of religious affiliations and starting the conversation that we are not just representing whatever affiliation that we have, we are representing any person that is being oppressed.”

A version of this story appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 9 print edition. Email Kristen Burns at [email protected].