First Jewish Student Union coming to Stanton Prep this fall
BY RABBI A.Y. COHEN
Etz Chaim Synagogue
This month, in more than 300 public schools nationwide, unaffiliated Jews are studying Judaism and having Jewish experiences through the Jewish Student Union and you can now add Jacksonville to the list as JSU is coming to Stanton College Preparatory School. These clubs and activities are part of the Jewish Student Union’s efforts to educate students about Judaism in an attempt to instill a sense of Jewish pride and increase Jewish involvement. Unlike traditional outreach or Jewish community-based programs, JSU culture clubs operate on school grounds, during school hours thereby creating a maximally convenient venue for unaffiliated and under-affiliated teens to connect Jewishly.
Funded by private philanthropists, the Orthodox Union and Jewish Federations across the country, each club is sanctioned by its host school and supervised by a school faculty member. JSU provides an additional club advisor who supplies free pizza or other kosher refreshments, delivers a teen-savvy educational program, and bonds with the teens serving as their link to the organized Jewish
community. More specifically, JSU seeks to enhance Jewish identity and pride, nurture a connection to the State of Israel, provide a portal for deeper involvement with the Jewish community and inspire an enduring relationship with the Jewish People.
Since the first four clubs were founded in Los Angeles in 2002, JSU has grown quickly and now reaches more than 15,000 teens annually across the nation. By creating a fun, social atmosphere, and bringing cool, Jewish advisors to public school campuses, JSU reaches all types of Jewish teenagers. JSU facilitates regular club meetings in public schools that meet during the lunch hour, before or after school, providing food for the body and soul. Programs include speakers from a variety of Jewish organizations, discussions on timely topics of interest to the participants and interactive activities. Kosher pizza, Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Starbucks, holiday foods or other snacks are always served.
In addition to the regularly scheduled school club meetings, JSU sponsors activities outside of school including Retreats, Citywide holiday parties, community service projects, ski trips, Friday night dinners, and other exciting events. In addition to Stanton’s JSU clubs will be starting across the greater Jacksonville area this fall. For more information, or to start a new chapter in your school, please contact Rabbi A.Y. Cohen at 908-922-0268.