Focus on Religion: HBS Jewish Students Association

The Jewish Students Association (JSA) has historically played a dual role on campus, both as the lead organizer of much of the Jewish religious activity and cultural events on the HBS campus. This year, we are expanding our mandate even further to encourage Jewish communities across Boston campuses to engage and interact.

The leadership of the JSA is comprised of an international bunch. Co-presidents Adam Berlin, Ilya Chernilovskiy, and Nicole Shomair hail from the UK, Russia, and Canada respectively, and Andrea Berlin, the JSA’s CFO, hails from the United States. We are excited to report that the 2012 club fair was a success, with over 90 new JSA members signing up this year.

We’ve redesigned our calendar for the 2012-2013 year and are excited to be rolling out a number of exciting new activities for our membership. This semester got off to a great start with our annual Kickoff Barbeque, where over 60 members joined for drinks, BBQ, and schmoozing.

We also worked closely with Hillel and Chabad, two affiliated on-campus organizations, to provide JSA members with a full menu of services, meals, and activities for the High Holiday season. HBS JSA students had the opportunity to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot with fellow students from the Harvard Kennedy School, Law School, and other Harvard graduate programs.

As we look ahead, there are a number of exciting programs on the horizon.  For October, we’ll be organizing a set of small group dinners for members of the club. Members who sign up will be randomly placed with a group of other JSA students and will be hosted at one student’s home for dinner. Over 50 students have already signed up.  In November we’ll be hosting an HBS JSA -nly Shabbat dinner, to give HBS students the chance to mingle and enjoy some good kosher fun.

December is also a busy month for the JSA. First, we are introducing the “Bagel Brunch” program. A bagel brunch will occur the first weekend of December, and will give JSA members the chance to get together, enjoy bagels, lox, schmeer, and good newspaper reading on a Sunday morning.

We will also host a Boston-wide JSA Hanukkah Party. For the first time ever, JSA students from HBS, HKS, Harvard Med, and MIT Sloan will be hosting a joint Hanukkah Party at a club in downtown Boston! This is a great way to get to know fellow JSA-ers from across the Boston community, so stay tuned for the details. The second semester promises more fun with a kosher wine & whiskey tasting, seder nights for Passover, Israel Independence day Party, and the Israel Conference.

As the HBS JSA, our goal is to encourage inclusiveness and openness on campus. Regardless of your background, affiliation, or degree of observance, we welcome all who are interested in learning about Jewish life and culture. We’ve been working hard to build a calendar of diverse and exciting events, and we hope you will join us!