With white supremacist Richard Spencer slated to give a speech tomorrow at the University of Florida—home to the largest Jewish student body in the United States—the governor, Rick Scott, declared a state of emergency, and the police barricaded the path leading to the hall where the speech is slated to take place. With classes canceled and many on campus fearing a violent confrontation similar to the one that claimed the life of Heather Heyer earlier this year in Charlottesville, the university’s Lubavitch-Chabad Jewish Student Center decided to respond with an unusual event—a daylong good deeds marathon.
“We are responding to evil with hope, to darkness with light,” said the center’s director, Rabbi Berl Goldman. “Our first responsibility is to help students navigate through this, and keep in mind that we’re dealing with all different types of reactions. Our second responsibility is to give students alternative options.”
To that end, the center has prepared a long list of random acts of kindness—from tutoring a child to donating blood—and will facilitate student efforts to respond to Spencer’s message of bigotry by doing good.
The mitzvah marathon will begin tonight at 11 p.m. with a falafel social, allowing students to begin congregating early and establish a sense of communion prior to tomorrow’s events, and will end on Friday night with Pink Shabbat, a dinner promoting breast cancer awareness. The Scroll will continue to bring updates from the campus as events unfold.