Students from two New York colleges told leading education policymakers and legislators that they are worried the flood of anti-Israel and antisemitic incidents they endured over the last year may flare up again when classes resume in the fall.

Molly Goldstein, a senior at Cornell University, and Esti Heller, who recently graduated from SUNY Purchase, were part of an advocacy day at the state capital on May 21 led by the New York, Long Island, and Westchester/Fairfield regional offices of American Jewish Committee (AJC).

“Jewish students don’t feel safe going forward. This is not the end – even if it is the end of the semester,” Goldstein told a news conference. “It’s something we must all continue to work on… so we can protect all students, so we can get the education we deserve.”

Heller said since Hamas’ terror attack against Israel on Oct. 7, Jewish students at SUNY Purchase often felt under siege, with “fellow students telling us we had blood on our hands and yelling at us.”

Following a torrent of hateful messages she received after penning an open letter criticizing the response of Purchase’s president to the issues faced by Jewish students, Heller moved out of her dorm and did not attend her commencement, fearing for her safety.

“My senior year was marred by the vile antisemitism that infected my campus and I am deeply concerned about the future of Jewish and Israeli life at SUNY Purchase,” she said.

The visit to Albany came on the same day AJC released its updated Call to Action Against Antisemitism, a Society-Wide Nonpartisan Guide for America that includes guidance and policy recommendations on how to understand, respond to, and prevent antisemitism.

“The bottom line is that antisemitism is not a thing of the past or something that lurks on the fringe. It is a clear and present danger now,” said AJC Westchester/Fairfield Director Myra Clark-Siegel. “Government leaders, law enforcement, and educators can play an essential role in tackling antisemitism and stem the tide of hate in whatever form it takes.”

During a morning briefing with about 30 members of the Assembly and Senate, Clark-Siegel provided key numbers from AJC’s State of Antisemitism in America 2023 Report, which found that 63% of American Jews surveyed felt less secure than a year ago and that 87% of American Jews believe antisemitism has increased over the last five years.

“We came to Albany knowing that many Jews in New York don’t feel as safe and secure as they deserve to be,” AJC New York Director Josh Kramer said. “The situation on campus is symptomatic of a bigger problem. It was important for public officials to hear these stories.”

With education as a key focus of the advocacy day, the delegation met with state Education Commissioner Betty Rosa, Assistant Education Commissioner David Frank, and Danielle McMullen, Assistant Secretary for Education to Governor Kathy Hochul. They also met with leaders of legislative committees that oversee K-12 and higher education.

“Jewish students feel unsafe at many of the colleges throughout our nation. Our universities should be a place where people can freely express themselves, learn a vast array of ideas, and be free from intimidation and fear,” Senate Higher Education Committee Chair Toby Stavisky said. “No student should ever be attacked based on how they look, whom they pray to, or where they are from."

“I am deeply concerned by the antisemitism we have seen increase throughout New York, our colleges, and K-12. I have fought for K-12 schools to receive additional resources in the wake of increasing security costs,” Senate Education Committee Chair Shelley Mayer said. “But the fight does not stop there. History has shown that remaining silent in the face of hatred only allows it to grow stronger. Every student has the right to feel safe while receiving their education, without harassment and intimidation, and the experiences of Jewish students should not be minimized.”

“I have maintained that we must be vigilant in ensuring those engaged in antisemitic threats and violence are held accountable, while also protecting the right to robust free speech and peaceful protest on campuses across New York,” said Assembly Higher Education Committee Chair Patricia Fahy. “Ultimately, we must have peace, a ceasefire tied to the release of all hostages, and achieve a lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 regional offices across the United States, 15 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. For more, please visit


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