Rabbi Zarchi’s grievances come in the wake of various incidents on campus, including anti-Israel demonstrations, circulating letters, and allegations of plagiarism against President Gay.
Zarchi recalled an occasion from October when Gay had attended their annual large Shabbat meal and pledged to support the Jewish community. However, Zarchi feels that this promise has not been kept.
The Rabbi detailed several instances where he felt threatened, such as an interruption during a previous night’s lighting by a woman yelling that anti-Semitism was a “hoax.” The Harvard Police even advised him to arrange security for his family after he hosted a screening of footage showing Hamas’s atrocities.
During his speech, Zarchi addressed President Gay directly, expressing the Jewish community’s longing to claim Harvard and its leadership as their own. He urged Gay and the rest of the university administration to take action against hate speech and not remain silent.
Despite his speech, President Gay did not make any public statement during the event. She did, however, light the shamash, the helper candle used to light the rest of the menorah.
Rabbi Zarchi also revealed that the menorah must be removed and hidden after each ceremony to prevent vandalism, a policy that has been in place since the first Hanukkah celebration on campus. He sees this as a sign that change is needed on campus.
The Rabbi also criticized his fellow chaplains at Harvard for their lack of support and their silence in the face of anti-Semitic attacks saying, When they witness hateful calls for the death of Jews, you don’t…say nothing.” He went on to say, “You speak, you don’t remain silent.” He condemned the normalization of calls for intifada, a violent uprising, on campus which he sees as a call for the murder of Jews.