Jewish Club seeks to educate students, reduce antisemitism


The Jewish Star is a very important symbol in the Jewish culture. It appears on synagogues, Jewish tombstones, and the flag of the State of Israel. Leah Wallace’s main hope for the Jewish club is to educate everyone about the Jewish religion, for example the Jewish star, so people start to treat Jewish people with respect.

by Kaylee Doyle, Staff Writer

According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 1879 anti-semitic incidents in the United States last year. In NYC, anti-semitism was up 82% in the first quarter of 2019. However, antisemitism is also at Glen Rock High School. Over the past week, five Nazi Swatzikas have been found carved into school bathroom stalls and classroom desks.

One group that is fighting this antisemitism is the high school’s new Jewish Club.

Math teacher Leah Wallace is the adviser of the school’s Jewish Club. She believes that the cause of these incidents is a “lack of education, lack of understanding, and the lack of willing to learn.” She said that “people feel very justified in their acts of hate because other people are acting in hate.”

The Jewish Club had first been created a few years ago, but a turnover student participation led to intermittent meetings. Then, the club held a couple of meetings last year and became a chapter of the Jewish Student Union (JSU), an organization that has different chapters of Jewish clubs in high schools all over the country. However, since all the club members from last year were seniors, the club meetings were put on hold until more students came to join.

Fortunately, two sophomores, Nina Bober and Rachel Khusid, approached Wallace asking to start the club back up again. From this point on the Jewish Club has been an educational gathering place for its 25 members.

Although the club name and a lot of the activities are about Jewish culture, anyone can join. The club is accepting to everyone and already has had many non-Jewish club members come to some of the meetings to learn more.

The meetings are typically held every other Tuesday after school. However, since the club started so late in the year, meetings were held whenever they could.

The Jewish club is still new so the leadership hasn’t had the time to organize many activities yet; however, they fully maximized their time. They have had bake sales and also have written sympathy cards to the victims of the synagogue shooting victims in California and much more.

“We did participate in the Multicultural festival, where we sold traditional Jewish snacks and desserts. And our first big meeting this year, we decorated Affi Koman covers. Our first meeting fell around Passover so one of the things that you do around Passover is you have a service at dinner, and one of the parts of that is covering a piece of matzah so we made pretty ones in our club,” Wallace said.

In a typical Jewish Club meeting, members learn more about Judaism and do crafts. Some meetings are more creative and some meetings are more educational.

“One time we talked about what the Affi Koman was, the part about Passover, and then we made the covers for them. Last week we talked about an upcoming holiday,” Wallace said. “We had a JSU representative come, and he told us about Lag BaOmer. He was explaining to us that didn’t know what it was.”

Lag BaOmer is a minor Jewish holiday that is observed on the 33rd day of the Omer count. The Omer is the 49-day period between the second night of Passover and the holiday of Shavuot. It is celebrated with outings bonfires, parades, and other joyous events.

Wallace’s hope for the club in the future is that it becomes a fun place to make new friends. She hopes the members find a group of people that they feel comfortable with and are able to learn things in a relaxed environment.

With the recent antisemitism attacks on the country and the school, both teacher, Leah Wallace, and concerned parent, Resa Ivers, know that students can do a lot to help stop them.

“Speak up when you hear or see something that goes against something you believe in, don’t just ignore it because it’s not necessarily affecting you personally. I think it’s important to speak your mind and stand for something you believe in,” Ivers said.

Even though the attacks are against the Jewish population, students worldwide should feel insulted because treating another human being different because of their religion is not right.

“I’d like to think that they can help educate other people, so that’s one of the reasons why we welcome non-Jewish students to join the club, to learn stuff. I feel like as a member of society I know a lot about Christmas and Easter, and I would like to think that other people would be interested in our religion,” Wallace said.

The Jewish club is designed to be a safe, fun way to learn about Jewish Heritage while surrounded by a nice group of people. Wallace hopes that the club will also help teach more people about the Jewish religion so everyone becomes more educated. Once people realize that it is just a religion like any other, she hopes for less violence towards the Jewish people.