Q. Is JSU a religious club?

A. No.  JSU is a Jewish culture club that focuses on inspiring Jewish teens to engage their Jewish identity and connect with Israel.

Q. Is a JSU club just for Jewish students?

A.  No. Although the mission of JSU is to inspire Jewish teens to take responsibility for their Jewish identity and connection to Israel, JSU Clubs are open to all teens, regardless of religious affiliation.  Actually, of the 500+ teens currently involved in JSU, roughly 10% do not identify as Jews.  Because the topics we address are teen driven, they are generally universal in nature.  As such, teens of all faiths gain a tremendous amount from their participation in JSU.  A side benefit of non-Jews attending JSU meetings is that it enhances their understanding of Jews, Jewish practice and Israel thereby removing misunderstanding and misinformation.

Q. When and where do JSU Clubs meet?

A. Most JSU clubs meet weekly in-school during lunch break.  Others meet bi-weekly or before school starts.  The main rule is that clubs meet during non-instructional time.

Q. What happens at a JSU Club?

A. Each JSU Club has it’s own “personality” to meet the needs and desires of the students in that club. However, the clubs basically run as follows:

– Each club begins with a snack of pizza, falafel, holiday foods or other kosher snacks thus providing food for the body and soul.
– “House keeping” for the club is done and all related announcements are made.
Members of all Jewish youth groups are invited to announce upcoming programs that are open to all students.
– The weekly topics are selected by the students and may include: Speakers from other organizations Israeli soldiers, dignitaries and guests Jewish Holiday Parties, Ethical Dilemmas Games focusing on different topics Arts and Crafts related to the meeting topic Debates

Q. How does one start a JSU Club?

A. Successful JSU Clubs always have strong student leadership. To start a club, a teen leader must step forward and take the initiative to start the club. JSU is frequently contacted by students to help start clubs in their schools. We are always happy and available to assist.  The following are the steps to take to start a JSU Club in most schools.

  1. Meet with the appropriate school official (usually the Assistant Principal for activities) to clarify what is required to initiate a school club.
  2. Identify a faculty member to serve as the club adviser. Most schools require a faculty adviser who is responsible to provide the room in which to meet, and serves as the liaison between the JSU Club and the school administration. The faculty adviser does not run the club and is generally a volunteer.  The faculty adviser does not have to be Jewish.
  3. The organizing student must complete all necessary club initiation forms and submit them to the school administration. JSU staff is available to assist the student in completing all necessary forms.
  4. After discussing options with friends and potential JSU Club attendees, choose a meeting day and time, and set and publicize a first meeting date.  JSU staff are available to create flyers and marketing materials.

Q. Is there anything the school must provide in order for a JSU Club to exist in the school?

A. There is nothing special that the school must provide beyond what they provide to any other clubs i.e. meeting space and a faculty adviser. Faculty advisers may be either be volunteers or paid by the school district, as per local regulations.

Q. Does a JSU Club in a public school violate the law of Separation of Church and State?

A. No. In 1984, the Equal Access Act (“EAA”) became law. EAA requires that public schools treat all student-initiated groups equally. Specifically, if the school permits non-curriculum-related groups (like the chess club or cooking club) to meet during non-instructional time (like lunch hour or club hour), it must also permit other groups regardless of the religious, political or other orientation. Further, the Supreme Court reinforced this in its 2001 decision in “Good News v. Milford.”

Q. Do JSU clubs engage in prayer or Bible study?

A. No. JSU focuses on contemporary issues through a Jewish lens, Jewish Nation, and Israel. Often Jewish texts are brought into discussions or activities to demonstrate how Judaism addresses the subject under discussion.