Would You Send Your Jewish Child to a U.S. College?

By | Apr 25, 2024
Spring 2024

Since October 7, concern has been raised about rising anti-Zionism and antisemitism on college campuses. We asked Reddit users: If you had Jewish kids right now, would you be comfortable sending them to an American university? Here are a few responses, lightly edited for space and clarity.

From u/No-Teach9888:
I’m the parent of a high school senior. We eliminated one school due to a pattern of antisemitism, and another school is possibly on the chopping block. I haven’t made it a big deal, but I’ve definitely been guiding my child away from certain schools. It’s too bad because they’re not too far from home, which would’ve been nice as a parent.

At this point, I don’t want my kid to be standing up for Jews like some people have suggested. If they were entering grad school or already established at a school, that might be a different story. At this point I’m not willing to send my teen into the lion’s den. Freshman year of college is complicated enough. I’m also fearful that allowing violent words on campuses will lead to more physical violence.

From u/Yurthideaway:
My kid is a junior in college at a SUNY school and is having a very tough year and expects senior year to be tough, too. It’s not even one of the worst colleges regarding what is going on right now on campuses. But we say education is a deep Jewish value and so my kid connects through Hillel and keeps on paying attention to the education.

From u/Supernova_was_taken
As a Jewish student at Colby College, I’m feeling safe and I’m satisfied with how everything’s been handled. But that’s not every college. What that means is don’t discount American colleges entirely, but do make sure you do some extra research about the climate at colleges of interest, such as reaching out to their on-campus Jewish organizations.

From u/Br4z3nBu7:
I have children, eight to be exact. At this point I would only consider sending my kids to private universities. Preferably Orthodox (though even YU is having problems) or Christian evangelical universities, as they would be safe places (physically) for Jews.

From u/_wishy_bone:
Cornell student here—I would send them. Many years ago Jews weren’t even allowed to attend. Antisemitism isn’t stopping me from getting the best education I can, and [the key to] my existence in the institution and success is resistance. I would not deprive my child of opportunity nor will I give antisemites what they want: Jews out of prestigious institutions.

From u/RangersAreViable:
As a Jewish student at the University of Maryland, I’m feeling very safe. Supportive administration, large Jewish population, no insane incidents.

From u/Classifiedgarlic:
It’s worse than you think it is. A third of this stuff isn’t being reported because it’s peer to peer bullying, or student A shares antisemitic TikTok, Jewish Student B sees it, Jewish student B is afraid to talk to Student A about it because they still have to be in the lab together.

I don’t think pulling students out is the answer though. Many Catholic colleges have offered automatic transfer agreements, which is wonderful. The trap is, if Jewish students leave, that means the antisemites win.

What needs to happen is comprehensive antisemitism education in HIGH SCHOOL. Teens are being radicalized via the internet and we need comprehensive education to combat it.

Most Jewish college students are physically safe. Emotionally safe is a more subjective term. A solid 60 percent of what’s happening is just high school mean-girl style interactions.

From u/loselyconscious:
I am a PhD student taking courses and spending a lot of time on the UC Berkeley campus. What I know from friends and colleagues, the situation is similar at similarly sized and politically oriented universities.

I would not say there is any risk to a Jewish student’s physical safety or their ability to succeed.

Emotional safety is very subjective, so I don’t want to say anything definitive about it, but I have not heard of any incidents that personally would make me feel emotionally unsafe. What there will be is a lot of discomfort.

I have never heard of or experienced a student being personally targeted as Jewish, but I have heard generalized antisemitic statements (usually more ignorant than signifying a desire to hurt Jews). There is a good chance a Jewish student will hear a few of these over the course of their four years at Cal or any American university. In my personal opinion, the types of statements I am hearing, at the frequency I am hearing, are not enough to feel like it’s a bad idea to send a Jewish student to this school.

If a student wants to be a visible advocate for Israel, then yes, there are going to be people critical of them and who do not want to be their friend, but that is the case if a student weighs in on any controversial issue publically. There is a robust pro-Israel Jewish community here as well (and a robust Israel-skeptical Jewish community). I don’t really think that is antisemitism.

From u/nickbernstein:
The cost of college has gotten so inflated that I’m not sure how good a value proposition it is generally. I’d certainly want to look at the major, the cost and the program. 

I don’t have kids, but I was raised with the assumption that the world was going to be dangerous and antagonistic, so I had to be prepared for it. I would make sure that my kid would know how and when to protect themselves. We would talk about the level of threat at different universities and in different programs, and I would definitely not go into debt pursuing a degree somewhere I might feel unsafe and have to leave.

From u/Chemical_Working3511:
Raise them with self respect and discipline, and know that Jews aren’t liked except by a very small (and getting smaller) group of people. My son trains MMA four times a week, and I train him with other forms of defense in the hope that it will be a waste of time. But if shit hits the fan, he’s the Jew you need. Wake up or continue being a victim. It’s your choice.

One thought on “Would You Send Your Jewish Child to a U.S. College?

  1. M McL says:

    Most Zionists are Protestant

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