Dear members of the University of Richmond community,

As President Ronald Crutcher has reminded us, we have been through a hard time this week as a community. We lost a cherished member of the Spider family, and we witnessed a disturbing video on social media

Crutcher stated that the video stands in direct opposition to the values we hold dear. As noted, our community has “serious work ahead” and we remain dedicated to creating a campus culture where all may thrive.

To those for whom this video has caused outrage, pain, fear and more, the Chaplaincy staff wishes to express our full commitment to you as valued members of our Spider family. We hear you and we care for you. 

We realize that the intentions of those who made this video do not lessen the impact on the most vulnerable members of the Spider family, nor does it diminish the hurt you feel. The swastika – a deeply antisemitic symbol – provokes emotional trauma for Jewish people, and also elicits painful memories of hate-based violence and long histories of suffering for all those who have been persecuted under the banner of Nazi symbolism. 

There is a famous adage attributed to Hillel the Elder, one of Judaism’s greatest sages and the namesake of the Jewish student group on campus, which seems particularly appropriate during this challenging time:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

If I am only for myself, who am I?

And if not now, when?

As religious and spiritual leaders, we believe that there is no time like the present to stand against antisemitism and stand firmly in support of Jewish life on campus and beyond. We also acknowledge that antisemitism is but one form of hatred that threatens the well-being of members of our campus and wider society. We assert our solidarity with students, faculty and staff against all manifestations of hate and bigotry directed at people simply because of who they are.

We held an on-campus vigil on Nov. 5 following the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We said then, and say again now, we are united in love and rooted in hope. Hope for a better campus, hope for a better world, and hope that we can accomplish this sacred work together.

We are honored to pursue these goals with you. 

The Rev. Dr. Craig Kocher, university chaplain; Mrs. Bryn Bagby Taylor, associate chaplain; The Rev. Jamie Lynn Haskins, chaplain for spiritual life; Mr. Waleed Ilyas, Muslim chaplain; Mr. Josh Jeffreys, Jewish chaplain and director of religious life; The Rev. Mr. Thomas Mullen, Catholic chaplain