Following the two recent resolutions passed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which fail to recognize Jewish affiliation with the Temple Mount and Western Wall area in Jerusalem, the Hillel Organization—the largest Jewish campus organization in the world—has begun promoting students’ connection to their Jewish identities.
It’s largest emphasis so far has been the Jewish community in Brazil.
The organization’s people are active in about 500 campuses in 15 different countries around the world. Their campus in Rio de Janeiro is a central base for Hillel activity across the globe. The UNESCO resolutions and their aftermath stunned the Brazilian Jewish community and the members of Hillel in Rio.
“Our institution has a very strong Jewish and Zionist identity,” said Ronny Rechtman, executive director of Hillel in Rio, “The UNESCO decision caused rage in the community and among groups of our volunteers on social media. At this point, we understood the importance of distributing
The community’s youths in Rio started a viral campaign organized under the hashtag “#conectadoscomjerusalem” (“connected with Jerusalem”), which called for people to post photos that show their personal connection to Jerusalem on social media. It quickly gathered steam and popularity.
Rechtman and Igor Benshimol, the two men responsible for the Rio branch’s communications team, told Ynet, “very quickly, many people from the community joined the campaign, and from there it started to spread to other countries as well.”
According to the two, “On the campaign’s first day, we gathered 120 emotional testimonies and many ‘shares’, and today we’ve reached over 50,000 people who connected to the projects in this way or that to the project, and also signed forms opposing the UNESCO decision.”
Rechtman and Benshimol are calling for the entire Jewish and Israeli public to take part in the project and share their personal ties to Jerusalem on social media, using pictures and stories. “When they make decisions against our people, it gives us a reason to unite, Rechtman said. “The anger at UNESCO created an opportunity to pass the message along to the entire community.”