This year, the Jewish Club of Notre Dame hosted the first annual Antisemitism Awareness Week to raise awareness about Jewish traditions, beliefs, history and Zionism.
The Jewish Club is currently led by junior Isabel Niforatos. She is the third Niforatos sibling to come to Notre Dame, and her older sister helped revitalize the Jewish Club just a few years ago.
Although Niforatos has familial connections to campus, she uses Jewish Club to make a family for other Jewish students and allies to come together. Their aim is to give Jewish students a space to gather and to provide a platform for other students to learn about the unique struggles that their fellow classmates might face during their time at Notre Dame.
“If you are Catholic, or maybe even Christian, it’s hard to understand that there aren’t spaces specifically made for [students of other religions]” Niforatos said. “Just knowing that Jewish Club is there is really important.”
Under Niforatos’s leadership and with the support of the rest of the executive board, the Jewish Club hosted Antisemitism Awareness Week during the second week in April, coinciding with the national Holocaust Days of Remembrance on April 7 and 8. One of Niforatos’s favorite events of the week was a virtual presentation led by the Anti-Defamation League. The event was interactive and allowed participants to anonymously share their opinions on whether certain statements were antisemitic and to argue for either side.
“It is a super useful resource,” Niforatos said. “And [the Anti-Defamation League] said that they would come back to do the presentation again.”
Unfortunately, just minutes before the presentation began, a group of unidentified people “Zoom-bombed” the event, logging into the meeting uninvited and displaying swastikas on their screens. By looking at the “Zoom-bombers’” IP addresses, Niforatos determined they weren’t affiliated with Notre Dame, but the graphic incident sparked outrage among many students, prompting a wave of social media posts and a student senate resolution denouncing antisemitism.
Though Jewish Club is small, its members have been working to include more of the campus community at events, and Niforatos’s ultimate goal is to increase participation at club meetings. In the future, she hopes to partner with other campus organizations to host a variety of events. Those partnerships could be vital for many minority groups by allowing students to “be there for each other and amplify each other’s voices,” she said.
According to Niforatos, “the best way to support Jewish Club is by attending events.” Though the majority of their members are Jewish, their club events are aimed at students of all religions.
Antisemitism Awareness Week, specifically, was meant to raise awareness about the high number of antisemitic incidents that still occur on college campuses around the world.
Niforatos said that “increasing awareness is a proactive way to combat antisemitism.”