Jewish students share and learn
The Jewish Students' Union at the University of Western Ontario provides students with cultural and religious identification. Within this seemingly small framework, however, lie vast differences in values, observances, upbringing and understanding.
The idea is not to unify the differences, but rather to diversify the spectrum in understanding the ties that bind. This is accomplished by providing students with programs, including speakers on hate crimes and bioethics, pub nights at local clubs, wine and cheeses, Israel Days, free Sabbath dinners every Friday night, holiday celebrations and road trips. Thus, new knowledge is shared by a group that is comprised of individuals sharing a common history. The experience that is derived allows for a secure individual who is able to enhance a larger circle outside the realm of the JSU.
Understanding bestows respect onto others with contrasting ideals and beliefs. In turn, tolerance and acceptance are evoked. However, ignorance demolishes this "acceptance."
Many of the cultural and religious groups on campus have been subjected to different forms of prejudice. Swaztikas on bathroom doors, "Stop non-white immigration" slogans in hallways and racist jokes are examples that I have personally witnessed on campus over the last month.
Yet, it is quite difficult for many to comprehend that our university could foster such hate, when its sole purpose is to "educate." At the JSU, our hope is to draw upon the strengths of our cultural and religious beliefs and allow the doctrine of "help thy neighbour" to flourish.
It is the goal of the JSU to learn from and teach the various organizations affinity while maintaining uniqueness. As we gain strength from our distinctive origins, we affect and display understanding and parallels with others.
President, Jewish Students' Union