War in Israel and Gaza
The following message was sent to Haverford students, faculty, and staff on Thursday, October 12.
Tuesday on Founders Green, I joined scores of students, faculty, and staff who came together seeking connection at a time of horrific loss, and community at a time of conflict. Gathered in a peace circle, we mourned the hundreds of Israeli citizens who were murdered or kidnapped by Hamas beginning on Saturday. We mourned the war it unleashed, the generations-long conflicts leading to this moment, and the certainty of more devastation to come for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
We came together to mourn for the victims of this crisis, their families, their neighbors, and the small-world network through which these deaths directly touch many of us. It is a network that includes Haverford’s Jewish and Palestinian students, faculty, staff, and alums, who are suffering deeply.
We came together to share common ground, in testimony to an essential Haverford determination to bridge differences through dialogue and through building community. We came together to affirm our faith in community and to open ourselves to others.
Many in the circle chose to speak. I found myself deeply moved in particular by two students, one Jewish and one Palestinian, standing next to one another in our peace circle, willing to express their pain in a group gathered to hold that pain and offer embodied support.
I thank them for their courage to speak their truth. I thank those who made themselves vulnerable by speaking from the heart. I thank those who chose silent sharing through a tradition of placing a pebble or written comment in a common bowl. I am grateful for the connection that the gathering afforded immediately afterward, and which radiated outward in time and substance from there.
It is a start.
At my regular evening get-together with students yesterday, I spoke with Jewish and Muslim students who expressed concern about how we will navigate the coming months of international strife that across the nation has already included challenging campus tensions, in order to thrive at Haverford and as Haverford. They seek support and thoughtful engagement from all of us across the student body, faculty, and staff. I am one of many in that support system.
As we move forward together, I would like to remind students about resources such as our CAPS counselors and other dean’s office staff who can provide academic and emotional support. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP), through Carebridge, provides free, confidential assistance for employees and their immediate loved ones.
This war is ongoing and we do not know the course it will take. But this much I know for certain: Haverford prepares students for bold engagement and ethical leadership through an incomparable educational experience. We root our mission in values drawn from our Quaker history of seeing the light in every person, living a life of continual learning or revelation, and contributing constructively to community. I thank each of you for demonstrating in the days and months ahead how we can work for a better and more peaceful world, beginning with our own hearts, minds, and lives.
In sorrow, and with hope and gratitude,