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Friday March 24th

Jewish community opposes Silent Sam's proposed relocation near Kehillah synagogue

A wooden box surrounds the pedestal where Silent Sam stood on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.
Buy Photos A wooden box surrounds the pedestal where Silent Sam stood on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.

Members of the Jewish community recently spoke out against Chancellor Folt and the Board of Trustee’s suggestion to house Silent Sam in Odum Village. Some have found it problematic that Chapel Hill Kehillah, a synagogue and religious school located on Mason Farm Road in Odum village, will be so close to Silent Sam.

“We’re standing together for Jews of color,” said Joshua Orol, chairperson of the Wake County chapter for Carolina Jews for Justice, a progressive advocacy group. 

In a Facebook post, the organization endorses a call for faculty and TAs to go on strike. The post said the resurrection of Silent Sam ran contrary to its mission of building a “more just, fair, and compassionate North Carolina.”

“Carolina Jews for Justice fully supports the strike and the actions of affected folks and their allies on campus in terms of whatever direct action it takes to oppose the construction of the new shrine for Silent Sam," Orol said. 

Another Facebook post, sent by a group of Jewish students at UNC, reiterates a distaste for the Silent Sam proposal, adding that, as members of the Jewish community, they felt it was their responsibility to raise attention to the problems the new plan might cause for minority students. 

“It was very important to me to see that the rest of my Jewish community was responding to this,” said Kendra Watkins, a member of Carolina Jews for Justice who signed the student response letter. “We wanted to make sure we got it sent to Black Congress and Black Student Movement first before sharing it publicly.”

The Facebook post recognizes that housing Silent Sam near a synagogue might pose safety hazards and admonishes UNC for their judgement. 

Watkins said one of Carolina Jews for Justice’s core values is tikkun olam, or repairing the world, and since they feel the University has been ignorant of the racial implications of their decisions, the organization is speaking out. 

“The University has had plenty of opportunities to repair this problem,” Watkins said. “But they haven’t done what’s necessary to make that correction, so we want to be involved in making that repair.”

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