JSU house is ‘house of learning’ for people of all faiths

House is first in college’s history

By Roxanne Fleischer
Only 2 of the 11 students living in the Jewish Student Union house on Pennsylvania Avenue are Jewish.
Despite these figures, president of the JSU, junior Zach Lubell is positive about the situation. “Our house is a house of learning,” he said. “The biggest accomplishment of the JSU last year was getting the affinity housing. This is the first time in McDaniel College history there has been a Jewish Student Union house.”
While the house has a small minority of Jewish students, all of the members of the house participate in organizing and running the events that the JSU puts on. Rachael Diamond, a sophomore and non-Jewish member of the house said, “Even those who aren’t Jewish in the house have participated in events. Now even Ben [Cockshott] is on the council, but he isn’t Jewish; [he] only lives in the house.”
The main benefit of the JSU having a house is that it provides a great location for events. There is also a kosher-style kitchen, which offers foods that Glar cannot. “The Jewish aspects of the house aren’t beneficial to me, but it’s interesting to learn about Jewish culture,” Diamond said.
Also for the first time in McDaniel College history, the JSU had a tent at Homecoming on Saturday. They will be selling Israeli and Mediterranean style foods. “[Having a tent] is a big deal for us, it is a big statement to the McDaniel community that we are a growing organization,” Lubell says.
In recent years, the JSU has been under reconstruction after it struggled with what Lubell called, “a collapse from within.” But the union has been reviving, starting with the creation of a seven person council – the council of command- which divides up the responsibilities.
“Before Zach [Lubell] took over, the JSU’s main event was at Passover, and that was basically it” says sophomore Naomi Raphael, vice president of the JSU. “Zach initiated the change; he got things back in motion by talking to the Administration and the Student Council.”
Still, the members know that the reconstruction will take time. The council is focusing on “setting up the foundation, so that when new people take over, they will have something to work off of,” Lubell said, “The first of anything is always going to be a little rocky, but we’ve had a lot of success.”
The JSU has hosted a gathering for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, serving apples and honey and offering a small explanation. Also, for Sukkot, the festival of the harvest, 15 to 20 students, in addition to the members of the JSU house, turned up to build a hut in the backyard and participate in a small ceremony and explanation that followed.
Upcoming plans include hosting monthly Shabbat dinners, where traditional Shabbat foods will be served, and traditional prayers will be said.
Keeping the JSU growing is the main goal for the time, as well as making themselves known to the McDaniel College community. “We want Jews on campus to feel comfortable being Jewish,” says Raphael, “and to know that there’s a support for them.”