The Jewish Student Union at the University of Florida is an organization that aims to represent and serve all types of Jewish students. Their goal is to be a liaison between the different Jewish organizations on campus. JSU’s Vice President, Laura Laufer, said, “We aim to be a meeting place for everyone and have a place that connects all the Jewish organizations. That way we can give a pathway for students to get involved and have opportunities within the Jewish community on campus.”
The Jewish Student Union partners with other organizations on campus to produce fun events and activities. For example, they recently paired up with the Hispanic Student Association to host an event called Falafels and Fajitas. Through this program, both organizations were able to experience a little taste of the other culture.
While these events hosted by JSU are meant to educate and celebrate the Jewish faith, they are also a way to showcase this religion’s culture. Laufer described that these co-sponsorships with other, non-Jewish organizations intended to include both cultures and encourage exposure to rituals and traditions different from their own.
Within their own Jewish community at UF, JSU also holds various events to show tradition and exemplify what they believe in. There are two synagogues on campus: Chabad and Hillel. The Jewish Student Union tries to include both of the two synagogues into their activities and events. “We definitely try to support all the organizations on campus, not just Chabad and not just Hillel,” said Laufer. “We don’t want to be exclusive. We want to give people an opportunity to be able to participate in all of them.”
JSU strives to have a welcoming atmosphere for both Jewish and non-Jewish students. “Coming into college, I remember I was very overwhelmed by the huge Jewish population on campus and I wasn’t really sure where to begin,” Laufer shared. “Jewish Student Union, for me, was a great gateway to making the Jewish community on campus a little more familiar.”