“I made space for Judaism in my life because of Jewish Student Union”

By: Daniel Sandfelder
January 26, 2017

Everyone warns you that junior year of high school is stressful. Between academics, the fencing team, and acting in school plays, there isn’t time to cram in much more. In freshman year I met this amazing man, Rabbi Chaim Neiditch, who runs Jewish Student Union (JSU) clubs at my high school, and his passion for Judaism really changed me. I made space for Judaism in my life because of JSU.

At Centennial High School, the Christian student clubs can feel aggressive and intimidating to me. JSU’s approach is casual, tolerant, and inspiring. I was very moved by this teaching, right before Passover. Rabbi Neiditch told how, during the Exodus, Moses reached the Red Sea and stopped. He let an ordinary guy named Nachshon take the first step into the sea. Nachshon keeps on going, even when the water reaches his nostrils. At the last possible moment, the sea splits. This story tells me that anyone can do amazing things and push beyond their limits.

I know that I have. On a JSU ski trip last winter we all celebrated Shabbat, and it created so much joy and happiness in me that I came home and started keeping kosher. This is pretty big in my interfaith family. Even though Judaism was the predominant religion in our home, I wasn’t very public about being Jewish and I didn’t observe rituals or laws. Today I’m president of my JSU chapter and actually thinking about a Jewish studies major in college.  JSU awakened the Jewish values that always lived inside me.

Federation supports Jewish Student Union to strengthen Jewish identity and develop young leadership.

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