Supporting Jewish Students During a Time of Heightened Antisemitism

The war in Israel has spawned a significant number of antisemitic events on college campuses and in other public spaces. Although there are a variety of perspectives on the conflict, what’s not up for debate is that Jewish students should feel safe and not subjected to hate speech, threats, or violence.

Advice from a counselor about supporting Jewish students:

Check in on them frequently. Make sure they know who the adults are on campus who will listen to them and empathize with them. Be aware that they are seeing terrible things, particularly on social media. Know that many of them feel betrayed by real-life friends as well as personalities that they follow (and feel they know) on social media. Their fears about antisemitism are real and not inflated or dramatic. For progressive students who have always identified with left wing causes, this is a particularly confusing time; many liberal/progressive Jewish students feel betrayed by people/causes/organizations with which they are usually allied.

Some questions that could open a conversation with a Jewish high school student:

It’s important to approach conversations with sensitivity and confidentiality, ensuring that students understand their privacy is respected. Remember: You are not expected to be an expert on Israeli-Palestinian history or the current situation. However, hopefully you are in a position to provide support to Jewish students, to advocate for systemic changes as appropriate, or to connect students with resources. The questions below might serve as helpful conversation-starters.

Personal feelings

  • How are you doing?
  • Do you want to talk about how it feels to be Jewish at this time?
  • Do you have any family in Israel?
  • Would you be comfortable sharing your experiences with me?

School Culture

  • Do you feel that your cultural and religious identity is respected here at school?
  • How do you feel about your interactions with other students in relation to your Jewish identity?
  • Have you witnessed or experienced any form of antisemitism or religious intolerance in school?
  • Would you be interested in having an affinity group or club with other Jewish students to talk about your feelings and concerns?
    o Can I help point you in the direction of a faculty member who might be a good advisor?
  • Are there events you would like to see at school to help educate our community about antisemitism? About the conflict in the Middle East? About Judaism?
  • How can we make our classroom discussions more inclusive of diverse perspectives, including Jewish ones?
  • Are there ways you would like to contribute to the school community that reflect your cultural or religious values?


  • Do you ever feel unsafe or uncomfortable at school because of your religious identity?
  • What are your thoughts on how our school addresses antisemitism and bigotry?
  • Do you know who to talk to if you feel threatened?
  • If an antisemitic incident were to occur here, do you trust we would handle it appropriately?
    o Why or why not?
  • Is there anything we can do that would make you feel safer or more secure at school?

Support System

  • What can I, as your counselor, do to better support you and ensure you feel safe and respected?
  • Are there any concerns your family has about your school experience that you think we should know about?
  • Do you need help navigating difficult conversations with your friends?
    o Have you had a friend (or anyone) say or do something that was unintentionally offensive to you?
  • Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience as a Jewish student here?

College Choices

  • Have you been doing research about Jewish life on the campuses you are considering?
  • Do you need help reaching out to Hillel, or other Jewish student associations on college campuses, to find out how they are handling any challenges on their campus?
    o Note: Hillel International (, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world, has a directory (see “Find a Hillel” on the website) and resources.

A few resources:

If you do an internet search for “supporting Jewish students at this time” (or similar), you’ll find hundreds of articles and blog posts. Here are a few practical documents that do not take a political stand.

Compiled by members of NACAC’s Jewish Schools and Jewish Students Special Interest Group