The Ohio University College Democrats, or OUCD, held an event on the evening of April 5 for a presentation and discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This was announced via their Instagram day-of. Because of poor planning, the club shut out Jewish students from this event.
The event took place on the first night of Passover. On both the first and second nights of Passover, there is a special event called a Seder. A Seder includes blessings, prayers, a retelling of the Israelites’ escape from Egypt and a feast. Seder is one of the most widely observed Jewish traditions. To have an event to discuss an issue which uniquely affects Jews during a widely celebrated Jewish holiday is at best ignorant and at worst strategic.
By all accounts, this was not an intentional move. I spoke with Julianna Rittenberg, current vice president and incoming president of the OUCD. She said she notified the other members of the executive board that she would be missing this event due to her observance of the Passover Seder. This was echoed by Dasia Dewberry, political director of the OUCD.
When I interviewed her, she said that she was aware of the event “in passing,“ but only due to Rittenberg’s planned absence. Stan Yerrick, the OUCD member who planned and led the presentation and discussion, also admitted that they did not know that the event would take place on the first night of Passover.
I am willing to concede this is simply an oversight, but it is one that must not be repeated. Although the presentation and discussion mainly focused on a critique of the Democratic Party’s approach to the conflict, this is still significant. A majority of American Jewish voters vote Democrat. And all Jews, whether they realize it or not, are affected by the conflict. Israel is the ancestral Jewish homeland, and for the fans of a more contemporary argument, is the only Jewish country in the world. Any discussion on Israel should, at the very least, attempt to be inclusive to Jews.
Again, this is not to accuse the OUCD of purposely excluding Jewish students from this event. However, this kind of mistake can be avoided easily. Passover was marked on many majorly-used calendars, like the Google Calendar and the Outlook Calendar. And, while I am not asking for every event to be rescheduled to not coincide with a Jewish holiday, the events which specifically touch on issues which concern Jews should take their accessibility into consideration.
It was clear from my conversations with Rittenberg, Dewberry and Yerrick that the event coinciding with the first night of Passover was simply a lapse in judgment, but it is my sincere hope that OUCD and other organizations with similar events will do their best to avoid similar slip-ups in the future.
Correction appended: A previous version of this article used the incorrect prounouns to identify Stan Yerrick. This articke has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.
Hadass Galili is a senior studying political science pre-law at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnist do not reflect those of The Post. Do you agree? Tell Hadass by tweeting her at @HadassGalili.