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Rutgers Hillel hosts Wiesenthal Center exhibit
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Rutgers Hillel hosts Wiesenthal Center exhibit

Staff Writer, New Jersey Jewish News

An exhibit documenting the centuries-old ties of the Jewish people to the land of Israel brought Jewish and political leaders from across the state — and the country — to Rutgers Hillel.

The three-day-long exhibit, “Book, People, Land — The 3,500 Year Relationship Between the Jewish People and the Holy Land,” opened May 1. It was co-sponsored by The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and the governments of the United States, Canada, and Israel.

The 24-panel exhibit showed the unbroken Jewish link to their ancestral homeland, stretching from the biblical prophets through the establishment of the modern State of Israel. 

“I thought it important enough to fly 3,000 miles to be here,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Los Angeles-based Wiesenthal Center at the opening ceremony. Cooper told NJJN the Center wanted to bring the exhibit to Rutgers in the aftermath of recent anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activities by two faculty members and a former adjunct professor that “that kicked open the door slightly at Rutgers to the scourge of anti-Semitism.”

Cooper gave university president Robert Barchi a 20-minute tour of the exhibit, explaining the significance of each panel and answering Barchi’s questions about Israel.

Rutgers Hillel executive director Andrew Getraer told the leaders and a small handful of students gathered at the opening that “anti-Semitism and hate has no place on campus, this state, or this country.” 

The exhibit has made stops in such international locales as the Vatican, London’s House of Commons, the United Nations, the U.S. Congress, UNESCO headquarters in Paris, the Gandhi Cultural Center of New Delhi, and at venues in Tokyo, Copenhagen, Buenos Aires, Albania, and Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan — the last two countries are majority Muslim.

Guests at the opening included N.J. state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Dist. 37), Assembly Deputy Speaker Gordon Johnson (D-Dist. 37), Assemblyman Gary Schaer, (D-Dist. 36), Michael Cohen, eastern director of The Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Hillel board president Dr. Richard Bullock.

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