By Hannah Kirsch
August 20, 2020
Jordana Schiff at the SWU Emerson fellow conference in Los Angeles. (Credit: Jordana Schiff)
Frisch alum and Teaneck resident Jordana Schiff was the first place winner of the StandWithUs Roberta Seid Award for Courage and Leadership, for her unhindered dedication to fighting anti-Semitism on campus. After her time at Frisch, Schiff took a gap year at TVA where she solidified her connection to the land of Israel, and also got involved with the StandWithUs Israel offices. From there, she went on to McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where her Israel advocacy continued. As challenges on campus arose, Schiff was able to combat various issues through her education and partnership with StandWithUs Canada and their research team, who provided her with the tools and resources she needed. Despite the pandemic cutting her junior year short, Schiff has continued to hold online Zoom seminars to educate her peers on Israel. Now, as a rising senior, she plans on furthering her passion for Israel education and advocacy.
Schiff has faced many obstacles in her fight against anti-Semitism. At the start of her freshman year, she immediately got involved with Israel advocacy on campus. That year, there was an incident where a Jewish student was kicked off of student government because of his “associations” (i.e., Hillel, Chabad, Israel groups). This inspired her to expand her knowledge to gain the training needed to combat this type of event in the future. From there, she got the opportunity to receive the Emerson Fellowship with StandWithUs Canada, which planted the seed of her involvement with the Canada offices.
Throughout her years at McGill, Schiff faced anti-Semitism in her own sorority and classes. In her sorority, a member was creating a diversity panel and did not allow Jews to participate because it would upset various other participants. Schiff had felt that her sorority was her escape and her safe place away from the ongoing battles continuing on campus, and was deeply troubled by this occurrence. She realized that anti-Semitism comes in many forms, and all types must be addressed and dealt with.
Another test arose in Schiff’s 600-student political science class, an introduction to international relations, where the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was used as an example of a human rights violation. The professor provided extremely biased sources that misrepresented the conflict tremendously. Schiff went to her Canada campus director, Rebecca Katzman, for advice on how to proceed. Katzman directed her to their research team, who provided a myriad of new sources to present to the professor, who ended up accepting and utilizing them in the lesson.
Today, Schiff is an active and longtime StandWithUS member. She has participated in a Canada StandWithUS geo-political Israel trip, which campus leaders, regardless of their connection to Israel, attended. Schiff was able to select one non-Jewish student to go, and invited a peer from Paraguay. She noted, “It was an amazing trip and students were able to leave with a greater understanding and return to their campus able to defend Israel in a different way [because they’re not Jewish].”
Due to the education Schiff received, this summer she started “Rimon,” a resource that educates students on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her motivation “made her an obvious choice for the award,” noted Katzman. As a double major in political science and Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, with a minor in social entrepreneurship, Schiff certainly has her work cut out for her and is ready to take on the world in the fight against anti-Semitism.
To contact your campus coordinator to learn more about StandWithUs, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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