"Ensure a sense of belonging for all members of the Lehigh community."
Words that I have often spoken. Words that mean the most during the most challenging moments.
Moments like the one that we and the world face today.
The pain and shock caused by the horrific terrorist attack in Israel are not some distant story. They are deeply and personally felt by members of our Jewish community.
For Palestinians caught in the crossfire of war, the violence and the tragedy are profound.
As we have grappled with the enormity of loss this past week, our focus and our outreach have been on listening to our students, understanding their concerns, supporting their needs, and recognizing that there are no universal answers.
As students return from Pacing Break, I acknowledge that many in the Lehigh community are hurting deeply. Others are frightened, anxious for the safety of family and friends, mourning the impact to their communities, or struggling to meaningfully support others.
At extraordinarily difficult moments like this, I have seen our Lehigh community at its best. In the midst of pain, personal loss, and unfathomable tragedy, we give one another space to process, space to grieve, space to try to understand. And in so doing, we can provide comfort and acceptance to one another.
The news media has reported that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia may increase across the country, and as I have spoken to our students and to leaders in our communities, I have heard these concerns echoed repeatedly.
With the terrible uncertainty of the days ahead, it is crucial that we extend our empathy toward one another. Let us be united in our kindness, understanding, and mutual respect, and reach out to friends, classmates, and colleagues who are directly affected by the violence. Every member of this community deserves this grace. It is the foundation of our commitment to one another.
Joseph Helble ’82