Healing and Unity

Dear Emory Community,

As students return to campus this morning after fall break, I know many at Emory are in profound pain, absorbing the shock and grief from the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel over the weekend. So am I. The reality of Jews being senselessly murdered and taken as hostages will not soon leave my mind, and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

We are fortunate that Emory students and faculty in the region are safe at this time. I have heard from many members of our community about how the attacks have affected them and their families and friends. The suffering they are experiencing is tremendous. I know they are not alone.

In June, I traveled to Israel with a delegation of Emory colleagues. We visited with Emory students studying and interning, alumni who live and work in the region, and scholars at universities in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It was my first trip back to Israel in 40 years and as a Jew, it offered me an opportunity to visit a homeland that is meaningful to my family across generations. To see the nation where I walked peacefully a few months ago now under attack is hard to comprehend. Acknowledging that a war has begun and more lives, both Israeli and Palestinian, will be lost to this conflict fills me with grief.

Each member of our community is experiencing this tragedy in their own way. As we move forward, we must show empathy for one another. My wish is for Emory to come together peacefully, and I see that we are already doing that with student-led vigils and memorials. I also urge you to treat your peers and colleagues with dignity as difficult conversations take place. As a research university, we are fortunate to have scholars who have deep expertise on the Middle East, Israel, and relevant disciplines. Our faculty experts will be invaluable at this time.

The students, faculty, physicians, staff, and alumni who call Emory home come from all over the world and represent many backgrounds and life experiences. Emory’s motto, the wise heart seeks knowledge, is based on an understanding that we treat each other with respect even, and especially, in moments of disagreement. That is my plea to you in the coming days—seek knowledge but do so in a way that acknowledges our shared humanity. That’s what unity looks like at Emory.

Treat each other well and keep your minds and hearts open. Pray for peace.


Gregory L. Fenves