Chapman University is one of three schools in the country ranked at the top of the Forward College Guide’s list of safest colleges for Jews.
Chapman is the only college on the West Coast selected among the top 30, and shared a perfect score with the City University of New York’s College of Staten Island and Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. “Forward” was founded in 1897 as a Yiddish language daily and has been published in English since 1990.
Close to 10 percent of Chapman’s students are Jewish, and there is an active Chapman Hillel group on campus as well as the nearby Chabad at Chapman, a gathering led by a Hasidic rabbi but open to other Jewish students regardless of their level of observance.
The Chapman community is both welcoming and safe, said Matt Ghan ’20, president of Chapman Hillel.
“I think one of the reasons is we’re very proactive. We don’t wait for something to happen,” said Ghan, noting that Hillel partners with other student and spiritual groups. The past two years, Chapman students have organized a Halal and Kosher dinner, with Muslim and Jewish students bringing food from their traditions for a shared dinner. Ghan expects the new tradition to continue in the spring and perhaps to expand to include other religious groups.
The Forward safety scores are based primarily on the number of anti-Semitic incidents on campus in 2017 – none were reported for Chapman – as well as the campus crime rate, prevalence of crimes covered by the Violence Against Women Act, other local crime data and whether the university has an LGBTQ center and support on campus.
“Chapman University is proud that our campus is considered one of the safest campuses for Jewish students,” said Gail Stearns, Ph.D., dean of the Wallace All Faiths Chapel in the Fish Interfaith Center and an associate professor of religious studies. “Much of the credit goes to intentional dedication to educate our campus about Judaism in creative and meaningful ways, and to create safe space for Jewish students. The Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education offers incredibly rich programming to connect our Jewish students with Holocaust survivors and to educate the entire campus. The Fish Interfaith Center works closely with Jewish students and has a part-time director of Jewish life, working to ensure Hillel, Chabad and Jewish students have both the space and the resources needed for their programs.”
Chapman Hillel holds a weekly Shabbat service and kosher meal on Fridays at the Fish Interfaith Center, the campus home for religious and spiritual life. The Hillel community also plans upcoming services for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, which begins at sundown on Sept. 9, and Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, which begins at sundown on Sept. 18.
Chabad at Chapman, led by advisor Rabbi Eliezer Gurary, also holds weekly Shabbat dinners at a home near campus as well as High Holiday services and meals and other activities.
Display image at top/Students of many religions gather regularly at the Wallace All Faiths Chapel in the Fish Interfaith Center.