Home / University of Florida / Gainesville’s Jewish Community Readying For Spencer At UF
Rabbi Berl Goldman (pictured) and other members of Gainesville's Jewish community are preparing for white nationalist Richard Spencer's visit to the University of Florida, including by meeting with law enforcement. (Photo courtesy Berl Goldman)

Gainesville’s Jewish Community Readying For Spencer At UF

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For Rabbi Berl Goldman, preparations for white nationalist Richard Spencer’s visit to the University of Florida have been going on for a while.

Goldman, the rabbi at the Lubavitch-Chabad Jewish Student and Community Center in Gainesville, said that hundreds of students and parents have contacted him expressing their anger and fear regarding Spencer’s appearance, scheduled for Oct. 19.

“It’s not a matter of if we are going to be affected,” Goldman said. “We are affected. I believe all of humanity — decent people of all religions, races, colors, men, women and children — are affected by this.”

The rabbi said local Jewish organizations and law enforcement have held several meetings to prepare.

Goldman said he specifically has been in touch with the Gainesville and university police departments as well as federal law enforcement. He said UF and its president, Kent Fuchs, have also been proactive during the past few months in preparing.

Chabad has multiple cameras installed throughout its building to monitor activity on a daily basis. The center is putting in place additional security measures, but they are known only by members of the internal staff.

“We take this extremely seriously,” Goldman said, “because we know we are a target.”

Chabad is a safe haven for many students, and it will continue to be so throughout the event, Goldman said.

“We hope to overwhelm darkness with light,” Goldman said. “Each person can do something to counter this in the right way.”

Goldman said he prefers to not call Spencer by name, and he refers to Spencer’s organization, the National Policy Institute, as the “group coming to campus.”

When a man wearing a swastika was on campus in January, Goldman said he felt it was his responsibility to help students and faculty channel their feelings in a way that would not cause more harm.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” he said. “You show up and you protest, they get what they want. They get the attention. They get the violence. They get the hostility. They get the media.”

Goldman said that, on the other hand, some will perceive not protesting as accepting the National Policy Institute’s messages.

Norman Goda, UF’s Norman and Irma Braman Chair in Holocaust Studies, described Spencer as an educated man who styles himself as a legitimate scholar and who does not act randomly.

“He claims that his conclusions are based on solid empirical research,” Goda said. “They’re not. It’s completely bogus scholarship.”

Goda said that it is unclear how many followers Spencer has, but he did attract a large number in August to the Charlottesville, Virginia, white nationalist rally, to which three deaths were linked. He said the amount of people who attended should be worrisome to Jews, minorities and anyone who believes in a pluralistic society.

He said he thinks Spencer is targeting certain universities because they have difficulty legally saying no.

“Not one of the student organizations wanted him here,” Goda said. “He had to resort to a legal loophole to get himself on campus.”

Goda said he thinks UF’s size and reputation gives Spencer a large platform on which to speak.

“He’s using our reputation and our seriousness to burnish his reputation so that he looks serious,” he said. “I don’t think we should allow him to do that, but we are a public institution.”

UF student AviChaim Snyder said that when he saw the man with the swastika on his jacket in UF’s Turlington Plaza in January, he snapped a photo, and the situation then gained traction in the media.

Regarding Spencer, Snyder said he was concerned when he heard people were trying to prevent him from speaking on campus.

“I don’t agree with him,” he said, “but the moment people start saying, ‘We don’t agree with him, so he shouldn’t get to speak,’ it can be flipped around the other way, as well.”

Snyder plans to stay home during Spencer’s appearance. He said he thinks that protesters on both sides may end up causing violence.

“We have one of the largest Jewish populations in the country for a public school,” he said. “I don’t think this event will define us.”

About Madeline Harlow

Madeline is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached at 301-768-8614 or mharlow@ufl.edu.

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  • hiking

    Man I wish I could be there to hear Mr. Spencer speak. Why are so many people ready to tread on a citizen’s constitutional rights? Agree or disagree with him he still has a right to speak. This article is about thought policing. Once we go down that road no one will have a right to speak their minds. We will no longer be free.

  • Venture14

    They’re scared of speech. Can you imagine how scared they’ll be once we start making really serious gains?

  • Spencer targets universities because they indoctrinate, people are waking up to the anti-white propaganda, and he can counter it. They’re running scared because he talks sense and presents well.

  • Lilith Drake

    I live here in G-village by the way that is what we born and raised here call it. We all get along for the most part so if any of you plan to come answer start trouble just remember we handle things differently here and we can carry. Don’t bring your crap to my town and except us to back down we do not. So that group antifa not sure spelled right can stay away or suffer a southern beat down. You have been warned. Remain peaceful or be prepared to ……. fill in the blank for yourself

  • Lilpup

    I’m surprise that W, Kent Fuchs, the Ashkenazi Jew who is President of UF was not at this meeting. Look at the list of University Presidents, since 1905 there have only been two Jewish presidents. The last one, Bernie Machen, was in office 11 years. Every one of those years he brought in more and more and more foreign students. When Fuchs arrived, he announced all he was going to do was “raise money” . Where do you think that money comes from? It costs a Million dollars per day to run UF. The goal of the NWO shills is #WhiteGenocide. We need Richard Spencer to come to this town to help people wake up and realize we are being Replaced.

  • Dissident5

    Yes, the ethnocentric, racist supremacist Jews who want to genocide the white race by any and every means and are behind mass immigration, who control the anti-white media, who use their control over the economy, politicians and education to destroy Western civilization do not want to hear Spencers message. With their control over the politicians, media, movies and entertainment they ever sow anti-white hate among minorities, and every vice and immorality in society. These wolves in sheeps clothing dread the waking up of the white race all across the West who have tumbled to their criminal intentions. Jesus called the modern Talmudic Jew the Masters of Lies and the Sons of Satan. The Babylonian Jew talks of love with a knife hidden behind his back.

    • szw

      Um… Jesus was a Jew and the Talmud didn’t exist until 500 years after his death.

      You seem bright.

      • Dissident5

        Jesus regarded the Talmud as the word of Satan and condemned the Pharisaic Jews who took control of the old religion as the sons of Satan and the Masters of lies. And Jesus rejected the old religion of Judaism and preached a New Covenant and a new path. Jesus lifted his followers from the backward ideas and culture of the past.

  • Cat Ruby

    Whatch doin Rabbi, sayin some other guy on some other day in January allegedly wore a Swastika? When your ace in the hole, or up your sleeve, has always be the 6 million.
    Low energy !!

  • Monty Mondegreen

    This Goldman character is idiotic, hypocritical, or nefarious.

    Spencer and his supporters are simply PRO-WHITE.

    Being pro-White does NOT mean “White supremacy”
    Pro-White does NOT mean “hate”
    Pro-White does NOT mean “White power”
    Pro-White does NOT mean Nazi
    Pro-White does NOT mean KKK

    Being pro-White is perfectly ethical and legitimate.

    Just as it is fine for Blacks to be pro-Black, Asians to be pro-Asian, and ethnic Jews to be pro-Jewish.

    Surely Goldman agrees, unless he is a hypocrite.

    But more likely, he is simply
    ANTI-WHITE

  • Michael Edwards

    fake news. theres no danger to jews from a few speakers from a non-violent movement. he must know that and is playing the victum role. this “three deaths” figure is compleatly misleading. two of those were a helicopter crash. is he suggesting spencer shot it down with an rpg? the finding for the third death have not been made yet but theres every chance the guy wiil get off because he felt his life was in danger from baseball bat wielding violent leftists who were attacking his car. the people at risk here are the alt-right guys from the extreme left who take the public position that violence is justified.