Jewish Group at the New School
At a meeting on April 1, members of the Jewish Student Union discussed plans for their Post-Passover Pizza Party, hoping to bring in more members with a promise of the leavened bread that Jewish students missed out on for a week.
The Jewish Student Union, formerly The New Jew, is working to become more of a presence at The New School. “It’s really important to have Jewish groups on campus,” said Sandy Fox, Lang junior and president of the JSU. “When Jewish kids apply to colleges it’s a major, major factor for lots of [them] if there’s a Jewish presence. I would have never gone to Lang if I hadn’t known that there was a Jewish club.”
The group is still small, at an estimated 20 to 30 members, but they provide as much of a community for Jewish students as their resources will allow. “On a Jewish holiday or on a Shabbat, everyone should feel like there’s someone to ask about where to go. We certainly do not have events on every single Jewish holiday and every single Sabbath. It’s a lot of money to host these events and it’s a lot of effort, too,” said Fox. The JSU does host events for every major High Holiday in September.
The JSU hosts one Shabbat dinner per month (the next will be on April 9), but usually refers students to NYU’s Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life on 10th Street, which has the resources to host events on every holiday and Sabbath.
While the JSU relies heavily on the Bronfman Center, they also maintain their autonomy, since the two groups don’t agree on everything. “The Bronfman Center is very much broken up into Reform, Conservative and Orthodox,” explained Fox. “We don’t want to deal with the sects of Judaism. We want to have everyone be included.”
Fox herself feels strongly about Israel, but didn’t want to speak for the organization’s views as a whole. “In the sense that we’re pluralistic religiously, I also want us to be pluralistic politically,” she said. “We would be totally open to someone who was unsure about how they felt about Israel or disagreed with Israel politically.”
However, the JSU does consider it their responsibility to be a political, as well as religious, presence at the university. “Part of our vision is that if there was a ever a time when an anti-Semitic thing happened at school, or something anti-Israel happened, we would be able to have a response, though it’s lucky we’ve never had to,” Fox said.