by Morgan Berson
To my fellow Dawson students,
This letter of complaint is in response to an article posted on Facebook by Russell Sitrit-Lebovitch, the president of Hillel.
On February 16th 2010, Mr. Sitrit-Lebovitch published an article on Facebook denouncing homosexuality and same sex attraction as a threat to the Jewish Community. To be completely fair, Sitrit-Lebovitch was not the author of the article, but he defended it strongly, claiming that the views it expressed needed to be “reiterated”. In the article, the author questions the motivation of a gay panel that has asked for acceptance at the college and in the Jewish community, and claims that they are trying to impose their “myths” upon the community and gain sympathy. The article makes blatantly homophobic claims that it passes as facts; for example, “…homosexual attractions are an emotional response to unresolved emotional wounds”. By posting this article, Sitrit-Lebovitch puts it out there for everyone to see, pushing his views and his homophobic agenda. This is not the first time he has made homophobic comments, but it is the first time his comments and actions have been disseminated so publically. There were several responses over the following days on Facebook and most of them were against his views. One of the commentators went as far deleting Sitrit-Lebovitch as a friend on Facebook because she felt that he was insulting her personal form of Judaism. This commentator was not a Dawson student, but an adult and a parent who calmly and collectively told him she was ashamed of his views. Sitrit-Lebovitch responded by telling this woman to leave if she didn’t like the views presented.
Whether the DSU cares to admit it or not, Hillel is the face of Judaism at Dawson College. The students at Dawson see Hillel and associate it with all Jews of Dawson, whether they are members or not. The view that Hillel represents the Jews of Dawson is reinforced by the club’s use of the derogative term, “Jew Caf”, where they hold many of their events. How can someone so clearly ignorant and rude be allowed to represent the voice of the Jewish population of Dawson? How can a president who is supposed to represent every person in his organization be allowed to publicly denounce a significant percentage of the people in it? Freedom of speech has reasonable limits; in this case it has crossed the line into hate-speech. His actions are no different than publicly criticizing people based on their race or religion; and Hillel, being an organization that represents Jewish teens and Dawson College, should condemn his intolerance.
What happens next to Sitrit-Lebovitch is completely up to the Dawson Student Union. However, I believe that I speak for a significant percentage of Hillel and Dawson students when I ask you not to take this lightly. Sitrit-Lebovitch has hurt a great number of people and I am turning to you to ask for your support in condemning his actions. If you wish to review the article post on Facebook, you can get it at The Plant office (2C.10); then you can decide what the proper course of actiont should be for yourself. If you share the same concerns as I do, you can sign my letter of support.
Thank you very much,