06 Sep, 2017

The Importance of Jewish Leaders on Today’s Campuses

06 Sep, 2017

Allison Brody, the mother of Truman Brody-Boyd (Virginia, 2019), recently wrote the below op-ed in The Virginia Gazette following the violent incidents in Charlottesville, VA. Her words remind us of the importance of Jewish leaders — like Brother Brody-Boyd — on today’s college campuses to stand up against hatred and bigotry toward any person regardless of color or creed. Brother Brody-Boyd penned his own op-ed earlier last month calling on the University community:

“Let us continue to come together, to speak with a unified voice and remind all that Charlottesville and the University of Virginia will not stand for hateful rhetoric or violence and will respond in the most powerful way possible: by countering their hateful speech with our own speech of love, compassion, acceptance and unity.”

Charlottesville hits here, at home

I am generally not a mom who worries. I encourage my sons to be brave and independent and to take risks. True fact: When my younger son was sixteen, I permitted him to travel alone to the Middle East.

But, today, as a mom of a Jewish leader at the University of Virginia, I’m worried. I’ve texted my son multiple times over the past few days to be sure he’s safe. I’ve called. Filling the cliché role of Jewish mother, I’ve even written the rabbi about the wisdom of off-campus retreat planned for Jewish leadership.

I think you should worry, too, and here’s why.

I’m the mom of that young man, the one who went to Lafayette and was a runner, who worked at Panera in New Town, who goes to Ironbound Gym — that kid who wears a kippah, or yumulka, as a sign of his faith. You may have noticed him some time with his Green Day or UVA-themed headwear.

My son, Truman Brody-Boyd, was born at the old Williamsburg Community Hospital. He went to Matthew Whaley, Berkley and Lafayette. He spent more than 11 years as a camper and volunteer counselor at Endview Plantation and five years as a Junior Interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg. He went from Tiger Cub to Boy Scout to Eagle Scout all right here.

And, now, he goes to UVA in Charlottesville where he is on the Jewish Leadership Council, where he is a brother of Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, and where he is President of ‘Hoos for Israel (and advocates for a two-state solution).

So, I ask you, friends and neighbors, when Nazis march through Charlottesville and mar it with hate, know that they hate one of your own, one of our own.

I want you to know that my son is not only a Jewish man but also a native son of Williamsburg who loves his town and represents it well in all ways at all times.

As Americans, we are all complex with many-layered lives and stories of origin. Truman knew he was from Williamsburg and loved it and embraced it through volunteer work and achievement long before he sought out the religion of his maternal family when he was 15.

So, maybe, you could worry with me. Not about my son. I’ve got him covered.

If you’re not already worried and ready to act, maybe, you could worry about other sons and daughters of the Williamsburg community, whatever their color or religion or grouping.

Please don’t let any of what happened in Charlottesville be written off as “just there” or “just them.” “There” always hits home. “Them” is us and our own.

Allison Brody

Read Brody’s original op-ed here and Brody-Boyd’s original op-ed here.