Jewish Student Union encourages togetherness

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Bella Rosner

The Jewish Student Union gathers at Starbucks to engage in a socially-distanced club meeting.

The Jewish Student Union is holding socially distanced hangouts at Starbucks every other Thursday in order to continue educating members and bonding as a community during the pandemic.

The Jewish Student Union, commonly referred to as the JSU, has found a way to expand their club while still following the restrictions placed on clubs by the school’s officials. Every other Thursday, members are invited to meet at the Starbucks in Potomac Woods Plaza at 4 p.m to take part in a Judaism-themed hangout. “Social distance measures are implemented and masks are required,” President Bella Rosner said.

These get-togethers are not affiliated with the school. The club works hand in hand with Rabbi Josh Kent from the National Conference of Synagogue Youth. “Rabbi Josh talks to all of the members about such things as Jewish history, the significance of certain Jewish celebrations and what it means to be Jewish,” club sponsor Matthew Salzman said.

Our goals for the year are to have more interactive meetings, grow our chapter, learn about Judaism and have a great time.”

— Sidney Cohen

In addition to the valuable lessons being taught, each attendee is treated to a free Starbucks beverage of their choice. These drinks are supplied by the NCSY and serve as incentives for club members to come and enjoy the presence of their peers while also expanding their knowledge of the Jewish religion. This club is meant to bond the Jewish community, while also teaching people about its culture and traditions. “Our goals for the year are to have more interactive meetings, grow our chapter, learn about Judaism and have a great time,” Vice President Sidney Cohen said.

The JSU club accepts all students, Jewish or not. It strengthens the bonds of classmates and creates a close knit, informative community. “Any club that is rooted in personal conviction and purpose should be recognized,” Salzman said.

The pandemic, along with virtual learning, has forced the JSU to adapt from their usual routine. During an average meeting during an in-person school year, the club meets in Salzman’s room to enjoy Kosher pizza provided by the Rabbi. “Club officers and the Rabbi discuss upcoming Jewish holidays along with meaningful life lessons,” Cohen said.

The JSU is a national organization that runs more than 200 culture clubs at public high schools around the nation. Founded in 2002, the JSU works to provide over 12,000 Jewish teens with programs to strengthen their connection to Israel and Jewish identity, while simultaneously creating a fun, social atmosphere. Club leaders are working hard to grow their club while also retaining old members. The school’s JSU currently has 20-25 active members, and continues to contact prospects in hopes to increase their numbers. “We are using social media and our email list to reach new members,” Rosner said.

Co-Presidents Max Reinstein and Rosner, along with their six officers, are working hard to make the club the best it can be. “We have been active members since freshman year and wanted to give back to the club,” Rosner said.