By Eden Binder
As the students at this university start a fresh semester, the Jewish and Israeli community are eager to come together again. Within these communities, there are numerous organizations to join. With the Second Look Fair in the rearview mirror and Israel Fest to come, here is a look at four Jewish and Israeli student clubs and organizations that you can join on campus.
Hamsa is the Jewish, LGBTQ+ and allies group on campus. According to club President and junior environmental science and policy major Felicia Shechtman, you don’t have to be Jewish or LGBTQ+ to join.
“Anyone who’s accepting and nice is welcome to come. We’re not exclusive to Jewish people or to LGBTQ+ people, although some of our events are,” Shectman said.
Shectman specifies that weekly meetings are for Jews who identify as LGBTQ+, but that the club is planning exciting events open to everyone in the near future.
“We are having a paint night on the 25th in Hillel at 8 p.m. We are trying to get together some other events, something for Purim and for Passover we’re trying to work on, and we’re doing a couple of collabs this semester to look out for.”
Shectman communicates that Hamsa is currently looking for new members.
“We started pretty small, got smaller during COVID, so now we’re just trying to build back up with fun events. We’re just trying to have fun events and a good community. New members would be great to come to our stuff. Just be yourself and we’d love to have you.” Shectman says.
- Israeli Folk Dancing Club
Although many have heard of this university’s competitive Israeli dance club Avira, there is also an Israeli Folk Dancing Club. According to club President and sophomore bioengineering major Gahl Shem Tov, it is less competitive than Avira.
“We play dances that are well known to everyone, and it’s a teaching experience more than a performance group,” Shem Tov said.
He mentions that the club is open to anyone.
“Anybody can come. It’s just a place to be a fun and good environment to put yourself in. We had a kitchen staff last week hear the music come in, run in and start dancing with us and integrated perfectly,” Shem Tov said.
Israeli folk goes back to Israel’s founding and has recently gained momentum.
“Israeli folk dancing initially started when Israel was created in 1948 to bring new Israelis together through song and dance, and it’s just kept going, and it’s still going really strong in Israel, and it’s become more popular,” says Shem Tov.
Shem Tov’s advice to those looking to get involved is to open your heart, even if it may seem strange at first.
“I went on Birthright and the advice that the Birthright director gave me is just to open your heart to new experiences, new ideas, and live in the present and let it happen. [Folk dancing] is a little weird to people in the beginning, and it looks a little strange, but just try to live in the present and enjoy the experience.”
- Jewish Student Union
The Jewish Student Union, or JSU for short, is an organization seeking to bring all Jews together, remarks Leah Bregman, the club’s president and junior marketing and management major.
“[We] try to get all Jews, no matter the type of Jew, to come together to events and have fun. They’re supposed to be fun events for holidays or meeting new people,” said Bergman.
JSU’s main semester goal is a smooth Israel Fest, which JSU runs every year in May to celebrate Israel’s founding.
“[Our] goal is to have a really successful Israel fest. Have it be bigger and better than last year [and] have campus actually understand what Israel Fest is and why we have it.”
Bergman acknowledged that JSU was still recovering from COVID-19, but that they were at the Second Look Fair along with more information about JSU.
“We will be at Second Look Fair. Our table is gonna be Israel themed because we want to get people on committees for Israel Fest. We also will have QR codes for our Instagram and our Remind101 so people can stay involved,” Bergman said.
Bergman ends by stressing that the club welcomes everyone but is seeking active members and people willing to take initiative.
“Everyone’s welcome and we need help. We’re looking for leaders and people who want to take initiative and do something with the club. [We want people to] be active to be successful,” Bergman said.
- Students Supporting Israel
Students Supporting Israel, otherwise known as SSI, is not only an Israeli advocacy club at this university but is international, according to resident and junior marketing and immersive media design major Judith Rosenbluth.
“It’s international, so it has chapters around the world, and it’s under one unifying name in response to the unifying Students for Justice in Palestine,” said Rosenbluth.
The club was started by Rosenbluth last spring and is currently trying to pass the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. Rosenbluth expresses that the club is looking for possible board members, with the only requirement being passionate Israeli advocacy.
“[Being] Passionate about advocating for Israel is kind of the only requirement. It’s open to pretty much everyone. It’s not a specifically Jewish movement, there’s a lot of non Jews [involved],” Rosenbluth said.
She stresses that anyone who wants to get involved with SSI should try to be involved with as many Israeli groups as possible.
“Get involved in multiple things. Don’t be afraid to be part of multiple clubs. If you’re looking to get involved, start with one thing and then branch out to more as [Israeli advocacy organizations] are all kind of interconnected and there’s a really nice community that forms around it.”
*Mitzpeh is an independent news organization and does not endorse any clubs.