Jewish clubs prepare for online fall semester

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Challah for Hunger board members having a meeting over Zoom. Photo courtesy of Anna Kaplan.
@Ileanairl
By Ileana Lozano
Arts Editor

Students in over 800 clubs at this university have taken a hit from the changes brought by COVID-19, including many Jewish clubs that have had to make adjustments to operating online.

“We’re going to be doing all of our programming online to do our part and help with the safety of everybody,” said president of TAMID, Genna Knoll, a junior supply chain management and information systems major. In previous years, TAMID members have had opportunities to travel and work with businesses in Israel, so this year’s changes pose a major shift in operations.

Other clubs that require in-person reunions to operate are exploring new ways to serve a purpose.

Challah for Hunger and Dedicated Undergrads Nurturing Kids, or DUNK, are focusing on educating members and the communities they work with in place of their regular in-person activities, such as baking Challah and playing basketball.

Anna Kaplan, co-president of Challah for Hunger and a psychology and communications major says that while the situation has changed, the club will be hosting three virtual events over the course of the semester. The purpose of these events is to educate event-goers on topics like food insecurity, hunger, and advocacy.

DUNK President Aaron Kurtz, a junior finance major, said he feels the loss of not being able to connect and play basketball with the children that his organization serves. However, he plans to send out a newsletter to the students that will focus on the importance of staying healthy and active.

“Now we have a broader reach across PG County,” said Kurtz. “Previously, we were fairly limited on how many volunteers we had, how willing the schools were, and how much money we had to get our volunteers fingerprinted. Now, we can send out this newsletter and build relationships with most schools in PG County.”

Mezumenet, the women’s Jewish a cappella group, has also been hit by COVID-19 restrictions. According to Mezumenet president Rachel Shovmer, a sophomore chemical and biomolecular engineering major, they have faced many challenges on Zoom with lagging and difficulty hearing others sing. To help with this issue, Shovmer says that they have utilized breakout rooms and are having members focus more on their individual parts.

“Singing is really bad for potential COVID-19 transmission, so even if we were in-person, we would have to wear masks and be socially distanced to sing,” said Shovmer, “and you can’t really hear from far away.”

All in all, the pandemic’s challenges to Jewish clubs’ fall plans have brought leaders and members together in these pressing times. 

“We learned that we all can really rely on each other to come up with ideas and do what’s best for the group,” said Shovmer.