Peace Vigil Unites Students

In response to the recent deterioration of peace talks in the Middle East, a candlelight vigil for peace was held at the Price Center Monday night.

Leo Der Stepanians/

The vigil was the first event of its kind sponsored by the San Diego Visual Peace Action Committee.

“”The purpose of this vigil is two-fold,”” said Diego Chojkier, founder and head of SANDIPAC. “”We want to stop the negative attitudes here on campus toward the conflict in Israel, and we want to gear people’s minds toward peace there.””

The vigil primarily concentrated on Christians, Jews and Muslims, the three major religious groups involved in the Mid-East struggle, although people of every religious affiliation were invited to attend.

Participants met at Muir college and were given candles to light and be carried on a procession through campus.

Upon arrival at the Price Center, Chojkier said a few opening words. Students and others were then invited to speak their minds on the conflict in Israel, but were asked to omit any personal suggestions for a solution.

Father Cassian Lewinski, a priest from the UCSD Catholic Community and currently in his third year on campus, led the speakers with a prayer for peace in the Middle East. During the vigil, he simplified the focus of the evening.

“”We’re just here to show our support for peace,”” he said.

Rabbi Lisa Goldstein, a representative from Hillel, the foundation for Jewish campus life, also led a prayer, this time for peace all over the world. She also reflected upon the impact of the Middle East’s situation on UCSD.

“”There’s been anger on campus at what’s happening [in the Middle East] and people have been venting it toward each other,”” Goldstein said. “”It’s important to understand that what happens there happens there, but here is our own world. We don’t need to involve ourselves in the politics of the Middle East struggle; we just need to share in the pain of it.””

The event seemed to be well received by those who attended.

“”We are all in the midst of our own lives in school,”” student Kelly Seal said. “”But there is life outside of school. An event like this one puts many things into perspective, and people start to realize that the suffering [in the Middle East] won’t stop until we address it.””

No Islamic group attended the vigil.

“”I’m disappointed that not all communities were represented tonight,”” senior Rachel Fleiner said. “”It would have been a significant statement if some of the Arab community had shown up, but then again, it might have created more tension.””

Chojkier seemed pleased and spoke with confidence about the vigil.

“”I’m happy people committed to the cause, and the speakers spoke really well,”” Chojkier said. “”This event will definitely be a springboard for further events and action.””