As an international attorney pursuing my LLM degree in Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law, I never imagined that my studies would coincide with one of the most challenging periods in Israel’s history – the war with Gaza. Amidst the turmoil and uncertainty, I found an unexpected haven of support and understanding at Pepperdine. The Christian university that embraced me, an Israeli student, with open arms.
Initially, my family and mentors had reservations about my choice to study at a Christian institution. They urged me to consider prestigious universities like Berkeley or other Ivy League schools. However, deep within me, I felt an unwavering pull towards Pepperdine. It was as if an inner voice was guiding me to this unique place.
From the moment I stepped onto Pepperdine’s campus, I was overwhelmed by the warmth and sense of belonging. Despite its Christian identity, the university exuded a remarkable diversity of religions and cultures, with students representing places from all over the world. This inclusive environment quickly dispelled any lingering doubts I had about my decision.
As the war in Gaza intensified, my heart ached for my family and friends back home. The news of a rocket fragment landing in my parents’ house and my brother being called up for reserve duty only amplified my anxiety. During this emotionally taxing time, Pepperdine demonstrated its unwavering commitment to its students’ well-being.
The university promptly organized a prayer service led by the Caruso Law School Rabbi Sholom Eagle acknowledging the hardships faced by Israeli students and offering solace and solidarity. This gesture of empathy and support proved invaluable during those difficult days. I was touched by the rabbi’s unwavering presence, ensuring that I never felt alone during those challenging times.
Beyond the prayer service, I received an outpouring of support from various corners of the Pepperdine community. I volunteered for Pepperdine Wave Classic, a Tennis and Golf event at Pepperdine, and found myself surrounded by a group of genuinely caring individuals.
Faculty members, student bar associations, and organizations like Rise, Student Care Team, The Pepperdine Beacon, the Center for the Arts (CFA), and the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution also extended their support, offering words of encouragement, assistance, and prayers.
The outpouring of support extended beyond the Pepperdine community as well. Jewish organizations like the Jewish Graduate Student Initiative (JGSI) and the Leadership Institute (LI) reached out to offer their assistance, reaffirming the sense of unity and shared experience among the Jewish student population.
The heartfelt prayers from the entire Pepperdine community, including the church, further solidified my belief in the university’s genuine values and its commitment to inclusivity and compassion.
Despite being far from home, I felt a profound sense of belonging at Pepperdine. Surrounded by such unwavering support and understanding, I was able to navigate the emotional turmoil of the war while continuing my studies.
Pepperdine’s unwavering commitment to its students’ well-being, its embrace of diversity, and its embodiment of Christian values have left an indelible mark on my life. I am forever grateful for the support and understanding I received during one of the most challenging periods in my life, and I wholeheartedly recommend Pepperdine to any student seeking an enriching and supportive academic experience.
In the face of adversity, Pepperdine proved to be a beacon of hope and resilience, demonstrating that true compassion and understanding transcend cultural and religious divides. This experience has profoundly shaped my understanding of humanity, reaffirming my belief in the power of empathy and the unwavering support that one can find in unexpected places.
The Pain of Antisemitism and the Hope of Pepperdine
Amidst the turmoil and uncertainty of the war in Gaza, I found an unexpected haven of support and understanding at Pepperdine, a Christian university that embraced me, an Israeli student, with open arms. However, I could not escape the harsh reality of antisemitism that was growing on university campuses across the United States.
The stories of my friends and classmates suffering from antisemitism were deeply disturbing. They spoke of professors celebrating the murder of innocent civilians, of feeling afraid to be on campus, and of even leaving their programs altogether. These experiences were a stark reminder of the enduring legacy of hate and intolerance.
The murder of our neighbor’s daughter and her boyfriend in Tel Aviv on October 7, 2023, was a personal tragedy that struck a deep chord within me. Their dreams of a new life together were shattered by senseless violence, leaving behind a trail of grief and despair. My heart ached for them, and I found solace in the unwavering support I received from the Pepperdine community.
In particular, two managers, Christine and Cindy, along with a Pepperdine alumna and parent named Layla, provided constant care and encouragement during this difficult time. Their kindness and compassion were a beacon of hope amidst the darkness, and I am eternally grateful for their presence in my life.
Pepperdine’s unwavering commitment to its students’ well-being, its embrace of diversity, and its embodiment of Christian values have left an indelible mark on my life. Despite the challenges and heartaches I faced, I found a sense of belonging and support that I never expected.
The university’s response to the war in Gaza demonstrated its dedication to fostering a safe and inclusive environment for all students. The prayer service organized by the campus rabbi, the outpouring of support from faculty and fellow students, and the unwavering presence of the rabbi himself were all testaments to Pepperdine’s commitment to its students’ well-being.
While antisemitism continues to cast a shadow over society, Pepperdine stands as a beacon of hope and understanding. The university’s commitment to its students, its embrace of diversity, and its embodiment of Christian values provide a powerful antidote to the forces of hatred and intolerance.