On the Recent Attacks on Israel

October 11, 2023
Steven Weitzman

Concerning the events of October 7, 2023 and their aftermath

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On behalf of the Katz Center and its community, I write to express our collective grief and horror in the wake of the atrocities committed by Hamas last weekend. The death toll from that single day has now surpassed 1200 people as of the latest reports—Israeli Jews, Bedouins, foreign nationals—and the tragedy will be unfolding for a long time both for Israelis and for Palestinians.

Among those devastated by this attack on the State of Israel are former Katz fellows. Some have suffered unimaginable loss, others are currently searching for lost loved ones; this is also a moment of profound grief, fear, and worry for current fellows with connections to Israel. This is an event with global implications, but for us, the personal dimensions of this tragedy loom largest, and every day brings new forms of heartbreak.

We are at a loss for how to respond to an event like this, but like the rest of the Penn community, the Katz Center wants to be as supportive as we can be.  For those currently within the Penn community, I have included below a message of support sent by President Magill and Provost Jackson. For former fellows, please know that you are in our thoughts, and that if there is any specific way in which we can be supportive in the longer term, please do not hesitate to contact me individually.

In great sorrow,

Steve Weitzman


A message of support from President Magill and Provost Jackson

Dear members of the Penn community,

We are devastated by the horrific assault on Israel by Hamas that targeted civilians and the taking of hostages over the weekend. These abhorrent attacks have resulted in the tragic loss of life and escalating violence and unrest in the region. Many members of our community are hurting right now. Our thoughts are especially with those grieving the loss of loved ones or facing grave uncertainty about the safety of their families and friends.

The University continues to focus first and foremost on supporting the Penn community – both abroad and on campus. We are heartened by the leaders and administrators who quickly and thoughtfully mobilized, identifying and reaching out to students, faculty, and staff with connections to the region to offer assistance and resources.

Penn Global is in touch with all known Penn students and scholars currently visiting or studying in Israel. We will continue to check in with them and provide support for as long as it is needed. At this time, all Penn-affiliated travel to Israel and Palestine should be deferred until further notice (for updated guidance and resources, visit the Penn Global website).

Here on campus, the Division of University Life, the Office of the University Chaplain, Wellness at Penn, and the Division of Public Safety, as well as administrators across Penn’s Schools, are engaging with impacted students and student groups, guided by their needs. Please be mindful of your classmates and colleagues who are processing these terrible events in real time and offer your support – whether it be an ear, a shoulder, or some space. A list of University resources is included below.

Penn is a global community with a long history of being a place for people from all backgrounds. In moments like these, we are strengthened by our connections to one another and to this community – no one is alone. Please take care of yourselves and each other during this challenging time.

About the Author

Steven Weitzman

Steven Weitzman

Steven Weitzman is the Ella Darivoff Director at the Katz Center and Abraham M. Ellis Professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages & Literatures at Penn.

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