As Columbia protests continue, University rabbi warns Jewish students to stay home

As pro-Palestinian students at Columbia University continue their protest against the war in Gaza, the school’s Orthodox Jewish rabbi sent a message to hundreds of Jewish students urging them to stay home to ensure their own safety.

“The events of the last few days, especially last night, have made it clear that Columbia University’s Public Safety and the NYPD cannot guarantee Jewish students’ safety in the face of extreme antisemitism and anarchy,” Rabbi Elie Beuchler wrote in a warning sent out to more than 290 students via WhatsApp.

“It deeply pains me to say that I would strongly recommend you return home as soon as possible ad remain home until the reality in and around campus has dramatically improved.”

On, CNN’s Jake Tapper said Beuchler told him he sent the message “in response, he says, to ‘just horrific’ videos of ‘protesters on campus calling for Jews to be killed, just off campus Jews being yelled at to ‘go back to Poland,' text messages I’m getting constantly from Jewish students about how unsafe they feel.'”

Beuchler on Sunday confirmed he sent the message, adding, “With Passover preparations and students to attend to, at this time I will not be taking any press inquiries.”

The NYPD did not provide statistics on the number of antisemitic or anti-Muslim hate crimes reported to police in connection with the protests at Columbia, instead responding to the request with city-wide hate crime statistics between Jan. 1 and April 14.

Antisemitic hate crimes across the city rose from 66 to 96 so far this year compared to the same period last year. Anti-Muslim hate crimes rose from one to nine.

“We do not believe that Jewish students should leave @Columbia,” Columbia/Barnard Hillel, a group that supports Jewish students, posted on “We do believe that the university and the city need to do more to ensure the safety of our students.”

Protests have continued in defiance of university President Minouche Shafik’s decision to call in the NYPD to clear a campus encampment and arrest more than 100 demonstrators Thursday.

Shafik’s decision has met with intense criticism, with the Columbia and Barnard chapters of the American Association of University Professors saying in a statement Friday, “We have lost confidence in our president and administration, and we pledge to fight to reclaim our university.”

In a series of posts Sunday, independent reporters showed videos of a new Gaza solidarity encampment being built on campus.

On Friday, a group of 97 Jewish students said they felt threatened by the protests surrounding the campus gates and asked the school administration to let them attend classes virtually.

One video posted on YouTube Wednesday shows a woman wearing a Keffiyeh cursing and screaming “We are all Hamas!” at pro-Israeli counter-protesters off-campus, while a woman wearing an Israeli flag as a cape asks a police officer, “Why don’t you arrest these people?” and yells back, “You f—ing terrorist lunatics!”

Another video, posted to Friday, shows two men on 116th Street, also off-campus, screaming “Never forget the 7th of October,” referring to the Hamas sneak attack on Israel that led to the siege of Gaza, and vowing that the attack would happen “10,000 times.”

In a statement Sunday, Columbia referred to student safety as its “number one priority.”

“Columbia students have the right to protest, but they are not allowed to disrupt campus life or harass and intimidate fellow students and members of our community,” the statement reads. “We are acting on concerns we are hearing from our Jewish students and are providing additional support and resources to ensure that our community remains safe.”