The Bolles Bugle

The Bolles Bugle

The Bolles Bugle

Spread Cream Cheese Not Hate spreads its message to Jacksonville


Most people don’t think about bagels when they think about January 15. National Bagel Day is just another made-up holiday to celebrate something random—at most, an opportunity for a breakfast discount. But for those involved in the Spread Cream Cheese Not Hate initiative, the day represents a larger message. 


The University of Florida Hillel is a branch of the larger Hillel campus organization that aims to provide community and opportunity to Jewish students. In 2020, the UF Hillel created Spread Cream Cheese Not Hate with the goal of combating rising antisemitism and other forms of hate. 


Karen Freedman, former Co-President of Beth El The Beaches Synagogue, helped bring the idea to Jacksonville this year. “They came up with the concept around National Bagel Day. You know, obviously it’s not really about the bagel, but it’s about educating and coming together and having a way to start conversations.”


“Just in the last couple of years, antisemitism has skyrocketed in the number of cases,” said Freedman. “It’s even more scary now, so it’s important to keep having open lines of communication and education because there’s so much misunderstanding and misinformation, that it’s easy for people to feel hatred because they don’t understand everything that’s going on.”


After hearing about Spread Cream Cheese Not Hate’s impact on the University of Florida campus, Freedman and her co-president applied for a grant to spread the campaign in May of 2023. “We were able to connect with Hillel, and we’d already gotten permission to try and replicate it here in our community.”


Spreading the message beyond the UF campus brought the challenge of finding a location to connect with people in person. “We partnered with Christ Church, Christ Episcopal Church, Palms Presbyterian and JaxTHRIVE to do these initiatives,” said Freedman. “The idea was to have a couple Sundays where we would be at each church and then our volunteers would be able ask people to sign the pledge in exchange for a bagel and cream cheese.”


Spread Cream Cheese Not Hate held its volunteer training and kickoff dinner early this year. “It’s a diverse background of people. Adults and teens of all different religions and races were all trained on what anti semitism means and all forms of discrimination and bias, how it all relates, how to talk to people about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”


Many of the campaign’s volunteers are students, including several Bolles upper schoolers. Sarah Park ‘25 participated in the volunteer training with around sixty to seventy adult and student leaders. “The training session opened discussions where people shared their experiences regarding hate and learned different perspectives, which prompted discussions against all forms of hate,” recalled Park. “The following Sundays, we began sharing the Spread Cream Cheese Not Hate campaign at local churches and synagogues.”


Throughout January, volunteers partook in two bagel distribution events to talk to people and ask for their pledge against hate. The initiative also plans to hold a follow up program in early March. “We want to keep having educational opportunities for people so we don’t want it to just be over.” 


Despite being Spread Cream Cheese Not Hate’s first year in Jacksonville, the initiative has already fostered relationships with several churches and organizations who hope to participate. “We’re making these connections and it’s really nice for everybody to work together on different things, so we definitely want to make it even bigger next year,” said Freedman. 


“The campaign fosters open conversations with diverse groups of people in the community over bagels and cream cheese, while promoting the values of respect, love, and inclusion,” said Park. 


As the campaign spreads its message through Jacksonville, Freedman encourages involvement from outside the community as well. “You don’t necessarily have to be local to participate. We’ve had a great response from people all over who are really excited and want to participate.” Through its outreach this year, the campaign has already surpassed its goal and reached 1074 pledges. 


Regardless of location or background, Spread Cream Cheese Not Hate aims to form a larger community dedicated to the same message. “We hope to educate and ask everyone to take the pledge: I commit to combat antisemitism and all forms of hate. I join with the Beth El The Beaches Synagogue, Christ Church, Palm Presbyterian and JaxTHRIVE to ensure my community is a welcoming space for all.”

About the Contributor
Ava Cheng, Design Editor
Junior Ava Cheng is a third-year Bugle staffer and Design Editor. She is proud of her 256-day (and counting) Duolingo streak and loves hanging out with her bunnies and friends.  Ava is looking to improve her interviewing skills and expand her subject matter. When shes not working with bugle or spending times with her bunnies, she is volunteering at JaxTHRIVE.