Camaraderie and Commemoration: Jewish Student Union Hosts Jewish Cultural Weekend on Campus

This past week marked the celebration of Jewish Cultural Weekend at Andover. Sophie Glaser ’22 and Bryce Shufro ’22, co-presidents of the Jewish Student Union (JSU), organized the weekend events; the JSU held a traditional Shabbat dinner in the Mural Room on January 28, followed by a bagel brunch on January 30. 

The JSU holds a Shabbat dinner weekly at Andover. However, Glaser was glad to see more students in attendance for their meal on Jewish Cultural Weekend. She emphasized the importance of community in Jewish culture. 

Glaser said, “This Friday, we had a very lovely dinner. We had a former JSU member come and visit, which was really nice, and had much more people than normal come to JSU. At the dinner, we did our typical blessings over the food, we talked briefly about Jewish culture, and then we just ate… I think such a big aspect of Jewish culture is just sitting down with someone, talking, being in community with each other.”

This week’s Shabbat dinner was on January 28, the day after International Holocaust Remembrance Day. According to Glaser, this week’s Shabbat dinner allowed the community to come together and commemorate the event.

“This past week, there was January 27, which was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, so that was definitely significant in terms of our gathering as a community. I know that was on a lot of people’s minds as we held these events, so being able to come together as a community and talk about Jewish culture was definitely significant,” added Glaser.

Isa Matloff ’24, member of the JSU and an attendee at the Shabbat dinner, shared that while these events are taking place on campus, more is left to be done by the JSU and the Andover community. Matloff emphasized the importance of making the JSU more accessible and increasing acknowledgement of significant historical events, including International Holocaust Rememebrance Day, by the school. 

Matloff said, “I feel like there’s a couple of things we could do to make it more easily accessible, and to bring it into the school’s eyes a little bit more… In general, I feel like a lot of things have gone missing from Andover – the acknowledgement of a bunch of different things. [For the significance of] International Holocaust day, the recognition would have been important from a school like this that has such a big voice and even just like an Instagram post, which I didn’t even see, was kind of frustrating. But all in all, I feel like there’s work that can be done on both sides, and it should be done on both sides. I feel like it’s a group effort.”

Glaser expressed some difficulties the JSU board faced while coordinating the weekend’s events. Initially, Rabbi Moshe Waldocks, author of “The Big Book of Jewish Humor,” was scheduled to give a presentation on Saturday evening. However, the event was canceled due to the snow storm. 

 “Our plan for Saturday was to have a speaker come, Rabbi Moshe Waldocks, who was going to talk about Jewish humor. I know a lot of people were looking forward to that, but unfortunately we had to cancel that because of the snow storm. He wasn’t going to be able to make it. I don’t think other folks were going to be able to make it. So we are rescheduling that for the spring and I’m excited to go to it, personally,” said Glaser.

Shufro also worried that the weekend’s concurrence with Head of School Day would present a challenge, limiting the number of participants at the events. However, he was excited to see a large crowd and many new attendants.

Shufro said, “I think that it was a little difficult, seeing as we had a long weekend and a lot of students weren’t going to be on campus. Since we were given this weekend as Jewish Cultural Weekend from [Andover], it didn’t make it super easy because most people wouldn’t even be on campus to attend the events. I was just super excited to see a bunch of new faces on Friday that don’t usually come to the JSU meetings and that everyone was having a good time. It was exciting to see that turnout.” 

According to Shufro, a diverse group of individuals participated in the weekend’s celebrations, including those who are not Jewish. Matloff encouraged all students, even those not of the Jewish faith, to attend the upcoming JSU events and weekly Shabbat dinners. 

“Come to JSU events, come to Shabbat. We don’t bite. We love having new people… We’re not an affinity space. As I said, I can’t reiterate that enough. So come stop by, even if it’s for a few minutes. We usually have food and some good conversation and a good time,” said Matloff.