Community Voices

Vigil Honors the Lives Lost in the Current Israel-Hamas Conflict


Students, professors, and community members gathered to show solidarity and call for peace in Fullerton and worldwide on the CSUF campus. By the end of the vigil, there were over 100 candles lit in the Humanities Quad.

“I appreciate CSUF faculty and students organizing this peace vigil for Israelis and Palestinians. It’s important that we stand together in our grief and unite in our common humanity towards peace for all,” said Fullerton City Councilmember Dr. Ahmad Zahra, who is Muslim.

CSUF Lecturer Freddi-Jo Bruschke helped coordinate the event. When asked why it was important to help organize this vigil, Bruschke answered that over the last few weeks, she had been speaking with Jewish friends who were feeling dismissed in many ways and needed a place to mourn, a place to recognize the tragedies, and share stories.

“I, like many people, have family in Israel, and what I see in emails from cousins is just a non-stop stream of horror every day. To see people I know either ignore it or say that it is justified has just been hard for me to process,” said Bruschke. After Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel, a large group marched on the California State University Fullerton (CSUF) campus and chanted hateful things, which many people found very upsetting and exclusionary,” said Bruschke.

“We wanted to counter that event, show that there’s a different response that doesn’t spread hate [or justify killing innocent people]. We needed something to remember the people who’ve died and mark the moment. We offered two prayers, a Du’as from the Quran and the Kaddish from the Torah, which were read in sequence, and I was tasked with speaking before that.” said Buschke. “I thought about how important it was that we speak to the lives lost, both the Israeli and the Palestinian lives and the hostages who are currently still captive under who knows what conditions. Of all the people who just got caught up in it, visitors, expats, and speak to that. Not to justify who’s right or who’s wrong. Speak to whether it’s ever justified just to start killing people, no matter your cause.”

Fullerton City Councilmember and CSUF Professor Dr. Shana Charles, who is Jewish, said, “I was heartened by the vigil at CSUF, with all of the campus and the community represented and coming together. Of the roughly 100 people there, we had faculty, students, administration, and members of the public from all walks of life and every part of Fullerton. There was some fear that it would turn into a fight. Instead, we listened to each other, supported each other, and sent a clear call for peace. My favorite moment was the Du’as being said by a Muslim graduate student. I’m unaware of any other event with the Jewish Mourner’s Kaddish and the Muslim Du’as being said together in unity and compassion.”

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