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July 22, 2019

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Jewish groups march in Las Vegas to protest anti-Semitism

March And Rally Protest Anti-Semitism

Steve Marcus

Gil Hayon, president of UNLV’S Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, and Elizabeth Pelkowski lead a march from the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas to UNLV Monday, March 6, 2017. About 200 students and supporters marched to protest recent acts of anti-Semitism in Las Vegas and across the United States.

Updated Wednesday, March 8, 2017 | 11:55 a.m.

Las Vegas Anti-Semitism Protest

Gil Hayon, president of UNLV'S Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, and Elizabeth Pelkowski lead a march from the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas to UNLV Monday, March 6, 2017. Alex Reininger holds a right at right. About 200 students and supporters marched to protest recent acts of anti-Semitism in Las Vegas and across the United States. Launch slideshow »

With Israeli and Greek fraternity flags held high, nearly 200 UNLV students and local Jewish community leaders marched in solidarity through the central valley on Monday to protest recent acts of anti-Semitism in Las Vegas and across the United States.

"Today we march and rally to let everyone know there is no place for hate in the community," said UNLV senior Gil Hayon, president of Alpha Epsilon Pi Jewish fraternity and the grandson of a Holocaust survivor. "There will always be a place here for Jewish students on campus."

The one-and-a-half-mile march started just after 4 p.m. not far from campus at the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas, 2317 Renaissance Dr., headed north on Eastern Avenue and west on Harmon Avenue to UNLV's Valerie Pida Plaza. Several vehicles driving by the protesters sounded their horns in support.

"Your actions are an example of what unites Americans," said Alison Pure-Slovin of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, speaking to the gathered crowd at Pida Plaza. "We must build bridges between diverse communities to promote understanding. Be proud of who you are."

Representatives from seven UNLV Greek organizations, Jewish and other faiths alike, also joined in the march.

Walking side by side among the crowd on Harmon, UNLV senior Max Plank of Delta Chi fraternity and sophomore Hannah Beutel of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority said they joined in Monday's march to help amplify the message of tolerance for Jewish Americans across the country.

"It's important and I wanted to show my support," Plank said.

The event came in response to graffiti imagery featuring swastikas and anti-police messages found in a student residential area last week.

The graffiti, sprayed on a power box at 3581 Spencer Street, followed a bomb threat made against the Jewish Community Center of Southern Nevada last month. The incidents prompted a response from the Consolidated Students of the University of Nevada student government last Monday.

“CSUN will not tolerate behaviors that undermine our university community to damage the overall student experience,” it said in a statement. “Anti-Semitism, similar to other forms of hate, should never be accepted on a campus that promotes the principle of diversity.”

The local incidents have been magnified in the wake of growing anti-Semitic attacks nationwide since the end of the presidential election cycle in November of last year.

Immediately following the election, Nazi-themed graffiti found its way to walls in Wellsville, N.Y. — where one wall read “Make America White Again,” and a Jewish school in Middlebury, Vt. The Southern Poverty Law Center documented 100 anti-Semitic acts in the 10 days following the election, about 12 percent of all documented acts of hate in that time period.

On Jan. 9, robocall bomb threats were made to 16 Jewish community centers in nine states — Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Tennessee — though no bombs were found. Nine days later, another wave of bomb threats were made to 27 Jewish community centers across 17 states, prompting evacuations and an FBI investigation. Two more waves of such bomb threats brought the total to over 75 incidents targeting about 60 such centers in 28 states.

On Feb. 20, over 200 headstones were found turned over in the Chesed Shel Emeth Jewish Cemetery near St. Louis in what authorities determined to be an act of vandalism. Six days later, about 100 gravesites were found damaged at Mount Carmel Jewish Cemetery in Philadelphia.

“We are condemning anti-Semitism with one united voice” said Rabbi Yitzchak Wayne of Young Israel Aish Las Vegas on Monday. “There is no room for any kind of bigotry or any kind of racism at all.”

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Alpha Epsilon Pi President Gil Hayon's name. | (March 8, 2017)