WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — George Washington University students with ties to the Middle East are struggling to come to grips with the realities their friends and families overseas are facing.
“I feel powerless,” George Washington University junior Shani Glassberg, who grew up in Israel and emigrated to the U.S., said.
Her phone flooded with messages from friends in Israel who came under attack by Hamas on Saturday, Oct. 7.
Glassberg described the photos and videos coming out of Israel as “worse than any horror movie” she has ever seen.
“I couldn’t go to classes at all this week,” she said. “I wake up and I try to think about anything other than the family that I’ve lost, the friends that I’ve lost. I’ve tried to sit down and do my homework. I can’t do that.”
Her pain and fear is being shared by thousands of Jewish students on campus.
For senior student, Sophie Kaufman, her friend’s life hangs in the balance.
“A family friend of mine, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, was taken hostage by Hamas. Last I heard, he lost part of his arm throwing a grenade out of a bomb shelter,” Kaufman said.
Even with everything going on, she said she feels commanded to keep going.
“Everything I’m doing, everything on my mind is what’s going on in Israel,” Kaufman said.
Glassberg and Kaufman are both finding support and comfort in their friends, organizations on campus and campus Rabbi Yudi Steiner.
“The Jewish students, for the first time in my 15 years at GW, are truly feeling, not just invalidated, but dehumanized and truly afraid,” Steiner said.
He said tensions rose after recent demonstrations on campus.
The Student Justice for Palestine organization hosted an event on Tuesday, called a “Vigil for the Martyrs of Palestine.”
“I don’t consider Hamas martyrs, not in the way they do. If they want to hold a vigil for the civilians who were killed, I would be there,” Kaufman said.
Even at a time that seems so dark, students are finding hope for a brighter future.
“I hope education will be our next route for better days so my friends in Israel, so my friends in Palestine, will all be able to live a peaceful life,” Glassberg said.
DC News Now reached out to Student Justice for Palestine for comment and did not hear back.