Guest Commentary: Build Bridges, Not Barriers

Photo by Sunguk Kim on Unsplash

 By Jonathan Groveman

The Davis Jewish Community is suffering.

Over the course of two evenings this week, dozens of Jewish voices have pleaded with both the Davis City Council and Human Relations Commission (HRC) to do more to combat antisemitism in Davis. There is a genuine fear amongst community members. Families feel it on our streets, at our homes, and in our schools.

The Jewish community is looking for allies and looked to city leaders for … leadership. Sadly, they haven’t found either yet.

The Davis City Council has a strong opportunity to bestow their prestigious Thong Hy Huynh award unto someone who has actually been building bridges amongst the Davis Community since October 7th – that of Leah Hibel.

Leah has been a working with DJUSD leadership to address the more than three pages of reported antisemitic incidents in our schools. She has regularly been communicating with the Davis City Council and the HRC about actionable steps to make the Davis Community feel safe. And she has been a voice for compassion and empathy during this trying time.

Regardless of where you stand on the war unfolding 7,000 miles away, it is common sense that communities here must stick together. And yet, antisemitic vandalism can be found anywhere on a wall in Davis now. The list of swastika drawings and antisemitic threats within DJUSD is pages long. And there is a 1964 Civil Rights Act, Title 6, case unfolding at UC Davis this very moment.

The Davis Jewish Community is looking for allies. There are many things we can agree on during this polarizing time. But there is no excuse for driving division and it should never be celebrated with a prestigious award, similar to what the Davis City Council is considering.

Please email Mayor Josh Chapman at to voice your support for Leah Hibel, a true builder of bridges in the Davis community and Davis’ Jewish Community.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. edubin

    “But there is no excuse for driving division and it should never be celebrated with a prestigious award, similar to what the Davis City Council is considering.”

    Hello!  Is there a source for finding out more about this reference? Right now I can only use my imagination…

  2. Todd Edelman

    To paraphrase edubin: Huh? Who has been nominated? Is it more than one person? Two days after publishing and the author doesn’t to make an addendum etc?

    Quoting myself, what I feel most threatened by #davisofficial is lack of Jewish values, most of which are the values of other cultural, ethnic and religious groups: The lack of democracy in community process, the lack of self-criticism, hypocrisy on the Climate, mayoral bullying, blissful disregard of transportation equity…

    Is this antiemitism, per se? I would argue that it is, or it’s some kind of sub-category. That’s really horrible…  before one adds various insults to the “sides”, generally based on over-simplificaiton and misunderstandings, and downplaying of economic interests and upselling of culture wars. But of course it’s not only Jewish values, as such. Let’s just say that most of the people and institutions in Davis are waging various levels of multi-opponent discrimination!

    As to the qualifications of Leah Hibel — I’m not familiar as I’ve not been able to work locally on the manufactured crisis in the eastern Mediterranean, though it’s hard as f–ck! My mother is Israeli (and she hates BB and what many are calling “genocide”), and her parents were and my father is a Holocaust Survivor… and… I’ve been around in a lot inside my own head!). As to the qualifications of the writer, it’s not hard to find him but this seems not directly related to his work, so I will leave it at that, except that a professional like him should really be following up here!

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