Newly founded JSU creates active community for Jewish students

Alex Cottrell, Staff Reporter

One of Sequoia’s best aspects is the variety of clubs that are available for students to join, from the Lego Club to Science Olympiad to the Spikeball Club. Clubs offer students the chance to find a community based off of a shared interest. Every year, new clubs get created. The Jewish Student Union (JSU) is one of the many new clubs on campus this year. Like the Black Student Union and Latino Student Union, the Jewish Student Union is centered around celebrating culture. Jews are a minority at Sequoia, and the JSU allows Jewish people to find a community in school over 2,000 studentsl.  

Senior Jonah Lipson founded the JSU this year to create a warm and welcoming place for Jewish students.

“I noticed that there were all these other ethnic groups like the Black Student Union, the Latino Student Union, the Asian Student Union, and I realized that Jews are such a small minority at the school and that we should have a place that we can all gather and be together,” Lipson said. 

The JSU is a place where people can talk to each other and support each other, and it’s an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Junior Xander Love is another student in the club. 

“There are freshmen in the club that I definitely would not have been friends with if not for this club. And now I have connections with people I normally wouldn’t,” Love said. 

Yet the JSU isn’t just a meet and greet club, it of course focuses on Jewish culture. It’s a great opportunity that makes it easier for Jewish students, and non-Jewish students that want to be introduced to the culture, to connect with Jewish culture together.

 “This club has allowed me to meet people or realize that somebody I already knew is Jewish,” Love explained.

He found out that one of his classmates went to a Jewish K-8 school because of a club meeting, and that he’d probably talk to them again.

 “In general, I’ve met a lot of amazing people through the club,” Love said. 

At biweekly club meetings, the JSU celebrates Jewish holidays, has fun activities such as trivia, discusses current events relevant to Jewish people and enjoy Jewish food. However, one does not have to be Jewish to join the club and participate in activities. One of the goals of the JSU is to make people more aware of Jewish culture and allow them to be more informed. The goal is not to convert people to Judaism, but to inform people and teach them about Jewish culture. 

“What we want to do is to make sure cultures aren’t ignored,” Love said.

There’s been large amounts of anti-semitism prevalent in the media recently, and Love even encountered Nazi symbols at school. 

“The JSU is showing that people are ignorant about the struggles of Jewish people and I hope that this club will show those people what Judaism is. Not to convert them, but to help them understand the differences and similarities.” 

People are often hateful towards what they’re scared or ignorant about. If the JSU can educate these ignorant people about Judaism, then hopefully anti-semitism will decline. 

One major event that Lipson is looking forward to is collaborating with the Jewish Family and Children’s Services, a volunteer organization. The JFCS will have helped 120,000 people around the Bay Area this year, doing many things such as delivering groceries to the elderly, helping the homeless, or assisting those with disabilities. Lipson has helped organize a speaker from the organization to come to Sequoia and talk to the club. JSU members will have the opportunity to help volunteer for Jewish Family and Children’s Services, helping people celebrate Hanukkah and provide impoverished Jews with supplies. 

“They want to get more Jewish teens involved,” Lipson said. “I think it’s a great opportunity.”

Lipson considers this collaboration to be the club’s biggest success since its creation four months ago. Creating a club from scratch has been a challenge, but Lipson has been able to make it work and go far.

But Lipson still has more goals for the future. His primary goal is to increase membership in the club. Currently, the JSU has around eight regular members. 

“I’m looking to expand and I’m trying to reach out and find new people who are interested in the club,” Lipson said. 

Because this is Lipson’s senior year, he wants to build up the club so it can continue to exist when he’s gone. 

“I don’t see any reason why the JSU can’t flourish,” Lipson said.