Jewish Student Union Presidents Conference 2022

November 11, 2022
Ariella Ayenesazan

Suwanee, Georgia, United States

Class of 2024

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We all love BBYO! What if there was a way to bring fantastic Jewish experiences to school? Oh, wait there is! Join the Jewish Student Union (JSU), The Jewish Student Union is a club for high schoolers. 

“The mission of the Jewish Student Union is to get more Jewish teens attending public high schools to do something Jewish! That’s it! It’s that simple!!!”  If the JSU is not currently at your high school you can start one!  One of the best things I ever did was to establish a JSU club at my school through which I was able to make connections with other Jewish students, including teens who are being raised in an interfaith household.  Additionally, students joined JSU because they wanted to learn more about Judaism and how to be an ally. Check out for more details!

I attended the JSU Presidents Conference 2022 in Somerset, NJ.  It was my first time attending the conference and I gained much from the experience.  I’d like to share some highlights. 

Dr. Eliezer Jones led a session entitled, Leading Change.  He shared the five-point framework he follows:

  1. Understanding
  2. Defining
  3. Brainstorming
  4. Prototyping
  5. Testing

This framework would be valuable when planning BBYO programming. We learned that effective leaders should possess the following traits: collaborative, innovative, creative, and determined. 

Next was the “unconference” session.  Fellow Aleph Luiz Gandelman led a segment about life in Israel. Did you know there are religious voting patterns in Israel?  It is often taboo in Israeli culture to criticize the government.  Much of the negative attention about Israel stems from anti-semitism. Davian Gekman led a session about anti-semitism and we took turns to share our experiences with antisemitism. This made us realize we are not alone in the fight against antisemitism. Some notable takeaways were, being courageous and smart when fighting anti-semitism, and partnering with your school administration to combat antisemitism.  We are all in this together!

Then I attended a session led by the AMAZING Avital Chizik-Goldschmidt. Avital is an inspiring Jewish journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, TabletMag, Vox, and Vogue. Her name might be familiar to you because of her viral article Tights Squeeze. Here are the Top Five lessons Avital shared with us: 

  1. Believe in yourself, your talents, and your skills
  2. Lean into your niche
  3. Leverage the power of storytelling
  4. Practice Humility
  5. Take time to listen to your community

JSU has many opportunities beyond the President’s conference. Check out my school's club @prhs_jsu on Instagram to see what we are doing! I hope this article opened a door for you to the Jewish community at school!

Ariella is a BBG living in Suwanee, Georgia, who loves to sew in her free time!

All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.

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