Baltimore’s Teens Speak Out on Israel, Antisemitism and More 

The recent terrorist attacks in Israel and the resulting increase in antisemitism, particularly on college campuses, has left many American Jews stunned and nervous. We decided to reach out to several teens to see what they are seeing and hearing. 

We talked with Rachel Murinson, a senior at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School and Lior Gamliel, a senior at the Park School, and asked them about current events and the impact on them as Jewish teens. The two high school leaders are part of 4Front’s Gesher Teen Board Members program, where they participate as active members of Beth Tfiloh’s and Chizuk Amuno’s boards respectively. 

What was your first response when you heard about the terrorist attacks? 

Rachel: When I first heard the news, I thought everything would be fine. I thought it was like the other rocket attacks that Hamas launches so frequently on Israel. But as I found out more, I became upset. I was in shock and I was heartbroken. Yet I realized I had to keep going. 


Lior: I remember I had gotten home late the night before and I slept in until 11 am. When I woke up, I noticed an email from the New York Times which said Breaking News – Netanyahu Declares War. I didn’t think much at first as I’m accustomed to attacks on Israel. Then when I scrolled through the news, I realized that what had happened was much bigger this time. My Dad’s family is in Israel, and I wanted to immediately make sure they were OK. 

Looking back, it was one of the worst days of my life. I was too upset to do homework. I had dinner with my friends later that evening and I remember I was late and not my usual self.


How have your friends responded, including your non-Jewish ones? 

Rachel: I’ve been talking a lot with my Jewish friends about what’s been going on. Some of my non-Jewish friends made an effort to reach out to me after everything happened. They wanted to see if my family was doing OK. It made me feel that people cared. 

Yet some of my non-Jewish friends never reached out. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they don’t know what to say. I don’t want to bring it up in case there are sensitivities that complicate our relationship. 

At the same time, I think my non-Jewish friends don’t understand what is going on, and I want to explain as best I can.  

Lior: I heard more from my Jewish friends. Almost all my Jewish friends know someone directly or indirectly affected. I have some Jewish friends who had close family or friends that went missing. 

Yet, I don’t think my non-Jewish friends understood the significance of what happened and what it meant to me. I am mostly disappointed by the silence.  

Are you doing anything to raise awareness? 

Lior: I am working with my school administration. There have been a lot of meetings with the principal and dean of students, because they weren’t sure of how to handle the war in a way that would be good for both sides that are affected in my school community. So far, we have created a space for Jewish students to process what was going on and had an assembly for the high school where we learned about the history of the region. 

There has been a lot of talk about social media and the spread of misinformation. How are you dealing with it?  

Rachel: I’ve been told not to look on social media. But it’s a mixed bag. But so far, I’ve mostly seen posts that are in solidarity with Israel. 

Lior: I haven’t been on social media. I have been trying to keep my social media feeds as normal as possible, but it is somewhat jarring to see things like the video of people ripping down the posters of the hostages. 

What about antisemitism? 

Rachel: I haven’t encountered antisemitism but I have heard from some friends who have. One boy I know who was wearing a kippah was approached by someone who said something derogatory about Jews. 

Lior: So far, nothing has happened that has made me feel unsafe, but I have learned to be on high alert in case something ends up happening. 

Has this changed your perspective about college as you watch what is happening on many campuses? 

Rachel: I am going through the college process now. I have been on a few tours. On one tour I saw a blackboard that said Free Palestine over an erased message of Am Yisrael Chai.

I don’t want this to have an impact on where I go. However, I want to be able to say and feel proud to be Jewish at whatever college I attend. 

Lior: This has made me rethink some of my applications. I’ve started losing interest in schools that were at the top of my list a year ago because of the sheer number of antisemitic incidents that have occurred on those campuses. 

How has 4Front been a resource during this time? 

Rachel: In the beginning Sophia (Varon), the head of Gesher, checked in to see how everyone was doing. She held a workshop, and I heard different perspectives. It made me feel closer to everyone.  4Front also held a Teen Vigil which was a chance to come together and heal together. Although I wasn’t able to attend, I heard it was an amazing experience. 

In addition, I’m part of HaZamir (the international teen choir) and during the first rehearsal, Erika (our leader) had us sing together. It was healing. 

Lior: In our most recent Gesher workshop, we took some time to discuss how we were feeling after the attacks. Having a space to talk about this was extremely helpful, especially because I am not normally surrounded by people who care about this issue as much as I do. 

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The Associated is a home for everyone in the Baltimore Jewish community. We offer several email lists to help people find a community, engage with their peers and support Jewish journeys around the world.

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