JSA’s Ed”Jew”cation Week

Written by Lane Fahey, Editor-in-chief

The last week of January, the Jewish Student Association (JSA) held five separate events in a week of Ed“Jew”cation.  Ranging from handing out bagels to motivational speakers, the events celebrated and promoted Jewish culture and heritage on campus.

The week began with an annual JSA classic: Schmooze with the Jews.  The organization hosts an event in front of Duke Library and pass out bagels, aiming to spark conversation and questions about Judaism.  When asked why the JSA holds this annual event, Secretary Allison Luing said, “we began Schmooze with the Jews last year to create a space to open up a dialogue amongst Jews and Non-Jews in the campus community by bringing in Greenfield bagels.”

The week continued with an event honoring the late Max Heller, who was a prominent figure not only on Furman’s campus but in the City of Greenville.  This CLP featured a short film about Heller, who came to America at a young age from Austria to escape the fear of the Nazis, in advance of the Holocaust.  Once he found a sponsor in Greenville, he moved to South Carolina and began working. Not long after, Heller had the opportunity to learn English in the city, and quickly became a presence to Greenville, eventually becoming Mayor and laying the foundation for Greenville to become the vibrant city it is today.

Something that always impassioned Heller was service and giving back to others, something evident through his legacy at Furman.  The CLP featured special guests, who spoke about Max Heller’s impact on the City of Greenville and on Heller Service Corps.

Another event of Ed“Jew”cation week featured six Jewish women as panelists, eager to discuss their experiences with Judaism, with a focus on empowering women.  The panel featured Allison Luing, Osnat Rosen, Alicia Armstrong, Musie Kesselman, Francie Heller, Susan Heller, with Morgan Cooper as a moderator. Panelists spoke on various topics; Luing and Cooper answered what life is like as a Jewish student at Furman, and Rosen discussed adapting to Greenville culture after living in Tel Aviv, Israel. 

Later on in the week, hundreds of Furman students lined up outside of the Watkins room in Trone eagerly anticipating the CLP, “Sami’s Story: Child of the Holocaust.” In this hour-long discussion, Sami Steigmann discussed how he was taken to a labor camp at one and a half years old.  Though he does not remember much of his time in the camp, Sami remains focused on delivering the story of the Holocaust to as many people possible.  

Steigmann shared two commercials during his talk in which he discusses the importance of remembrance.  In this age, these kinds of talks are of mounting relevance, as the generation of current Furman students will most likely be the last with the opportunity to hear from living Holocaust survivors.  Each year, International Holocaust Remembrance Day happens on Monday, January 27, and forms the main focus of JSA’s Ed“Jew”cation week, remembering those who lost their lives in the Holocaust in an effort to prevent future genocide.  Additional Holocaust remembrance information was available as a central exhibit in the Duke Library during late January and early February.

To wrap up the week, the Greenville community joined for a Shabbat dinner, to connect one another after a week of learning.  Shabbat dinner celebrates the Sabbath day, starting at sundown on Friday, and lasting until sundown on Saturday. This dinner typically consists of a prayer for challah and wine, as well as valuable time with family and loved ones. 

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