How to Jewish-Ify Your Public School

3 weeks ago The Connections Staff 0

Chloe Baker// Fairfax, VA

As a Jewish teen who attends a public school, it can be hard to feel represented among the many cultures and religions that co-exist in my everyday life. Diversity is important, but sometimes it feels as if Judaism is constantly put on the back burner. However, it is a religion that others need to be educated on, and it is important for me to share it.

Thus, I have compiled an easy-to-read guide to bringing CTeen and Judaism into a public school setting. I encourage you to take one of these steps — or all of them — and watch Jewish life at your school awaken. 

Start a Jewish Student Association

A Jewish Student Association (JSA) is a great club to start at your school to bring Jewish students together in an effort to unite them and form new friendships. At your JSA you can host monthly meetings to celebrate upcoming holidays and discuss antisemitism. Some friendly debate topics I suggest include “best latke topping,” “Kabbalat Shabbat vs Havdalah,” or “which city in Israel is the best.” You could also plan trips to do community service work or to go to Shul together.

Although the JSA is a community for Jewish students, it is also beneficial to invite non-Jewish students to meetings so they can better understand our religion and get a feel for some of our traditions. Have it open to all!

Kosher Food Club (a.k.a, KFC) 

I never knew what a KFC was until I found out my CTeen Rabbi is affiliated with one at a local high school. At KFC, Jewish students enjoy kosher food after school, while spending time with each other. This is a nice way for students to bond, have meaningful conversations and enjoy a nosh in an easy going environment.

Invite Your Rabbi to Come Speak 

This year, I’m taking a world religions class. As a part of one of our lessons we had a Rabbi come speak to us and talk about his everyday life running a congregation. Then we had time for a Q&A session at the end. Even if you are not taking a religion course, getting a Rabbi to come speak to your class is something very valuable. I am sure everyone would appreciate and learn from it. Another way you could have a Rabbi come speak at your school is to talk about the Holocaust as part of a history lesson, or to come in during a holiday and explain the symbolism of it to the class. 

Be Jewish and Proud 

The best for last goes without saying. Always take pride in being Jewish and never be afraid to show it. Don’t be worried about missing school for High Holidays, and be sure to be honest with your teachers and keep them informed if they have questions about why you’re gone. Proudly celebrate the holidays, teach your friends about your traditions, and combat antisemitism when you see it.