“Newish” club: it’s new and Jewish

Jewish Student Union makes a comeback after two years


Photo by Naina Srivastava

Derin Degerli, Social Media Editor

The idea came to junior Yael Zayats when she was talking to a friend about the lack of an MVHS Jewish Club: she could make one.

The Jewish Student Union Club had dissolved two years prior due to COVID-19, and never quite returned. That is, until this year. However, Zayats was not the only one who wanted to create a club to learn and celebrate Jewish culture. History teacher Kevin Heiken said two different groups of students asked him to be their club’s adviser. He suggested they unite.

Zayats said “it was an easy choice” to ask Heiken to be the club’s adviser. 

“[He] is a teacher that is very open about being Jewish,” Zayats said. “He has a jar of gefilte fish,” a traditional Jewish food,“on his desk all the time.”  

Heiken said he happily accepted the position of adviser because he wanted to help create an open space for the Jewish community. 

“I want it to be a club where Jewish students of all backgrounds, all views, all levels of religiosity and connectivity are able to come together and feel like they have a space to express what it means to be Jewish for them,” Heiken said. 

Although the club is centered around Judaism, it welcomes everyone to join regardless of religion, Heiken said. Zayats added that “non-Jews” are welcome to join the club and learn about Jewish culture.

 The club was created through Jewish Student Union, an organization that has high school clubs across Northern America. According to the organization’s website, its mission is to “get more Jewish teens attending public high schools to do something Jewish!” To become an official chapter, board members applied for positions and got interviewed by the JSU director of Silicon Valley, Tzila Dagan.

 Zayats said the club intends on introducing Jewish customs to the student body during the holiday season. For example, the club is considering putting up a sukkah, a hut without a roof to display in the science quad during Sukkot, a weeklong holiday that honors the years Israelites traveled through the desert to the Promised Land without a stationary shelter.

The club will also partner with other JSU chapters on overnight, weekend trips and hopes to make a positive impact on their community by delivering bags of traditional food for Jewish patients during holidays when it may otherwise be inaccessible, according to Zayats. 

Zayats said she believes the club will continue to be successful in future years because of the level of student investment.

“We have a good mix of upperclassmen and lowerclassmen so I think the club has a pretty good future,” Heiken said.