Grief-stricken students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill united last week in pledging good deeds to honor the life of slain student body president Eve Carson.
Speaking at the March 6 service, Rabbi Zalman Bluming, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Chapel Hill and its campus-based Chabad House serving UNC and neighboring Duke University, challenged the collegians to "translate [your] emotion into action."
"Don't just read the news reports and feel a moment of anger, or sadness, grief or despair," urged the rabbi, who led the ceremony co-sponsored by the campus Hillel. "Change your life in some small, but meaningful way. That change, that action, will bring the only possible consolation: the consolation of overcoming negativity, terror and destruction."
Carson, 22, was found murdered the day before. The senior from Athens, Ga., was a noted supporter of campus student groups, and, according to officials, universally liked by UNC's tight-knit college community.
Although she was not Jewish, Jewish students chose to honor Carson for her ability to unite people of all backgrounds, said Bluming. The Jewish community's service – which also marked the murder of eight students from Jerusalem's Mercaz Harav yeshiva earlier that day – followed the main campus assembly, which drew some 5,000 people.
"There was no other student who could capture the campus the way Eve did," said Bluming. "The kids were really shaken up. She spoke at every major event on campus."
Eve Carson, whose murder last week stunned the University of North Carolina
Carson, noted Bluming, even supported the Chabad House in overt ways.
"When we had a problem with funding, she said she'd support us any way that she could in the student government," he said. "And she did."
At the ceremony, students pledged to do good deeds in memory of Carson and the slain yeshiva students; they wrote their resolutions and reflections on index cards and tacked them to a wall.
"I was thinking about the Jerusalem students and Eve today, and how being a student [and] thirsting for knowledge has become dangerous in this difficult, but wonderful world," wrote one attendee. "I guess one can never escape the world, but must learn to live in it."
"I remember Eve and the way, almost a year ago, she led us all in prayer as we remembered the victims of Virginia Tech," said Bluming, referring to the 2007 massacre of university students by a lone gunman in Blacksburg, Va. "Instead of just talking, she asked everyone to form an unbreakable circle, a wall of love and caring.
"I am so proud of the Carolina community and the way they came together," he added. "It speaks volumes on what an incredible caring community we are part of."