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Jewish clubs promote communication, discussion

Christian Meyers | Friday, October 7, 2011

As a way of enriching their faith experience at Notre Dame, Jewish students have started clubs that allow Jewish and non-Jewish students to come together to experience the Jewish culture in a deeper and more meaningful way.

Fourth year graduate student Jonathan Silver is a member of the unofficially titled Irish Jews Pizza Social, sponsored by the Midwest Torah Center in South Bend.

“The goal of the group is to bring Jews together,” Silver said.

At their Monday meetings in LaFortune Student Center, the club brings Jewish students together to discuss Judaism, Jewish heritage, important moral topics and any other subjects the group wishes to discuss, Silver said.

The group consists of four engineering grad students, and Rabbi Gred Nebel of the Midwest Torah Center leads a discussion.

“I bring some materials to start with, but the discussion goes wherever the students want to go. It’s an open ended lunch time discussion,” Rabbi Nebel said. “We’re not stuck with the topics I bring.”

Silver said these groups have the potential to be very influential in Jewish students’ lives.

“The schools that Rabbi Nebel and I went to as undergraduates had such groups and we both found them to be very influential in our lives,” Silver said. “This is something he and I have wanted to start at Notre Dame for a few years now.”

Silver said the Pizza Social is an important part of his Notre Dame experience.

“Having this group allows me to bond with other Jewish students in a way I never thought was possible when I first decided to come to Notre Dame,” Silver said.

Sophomore Ben Finan is the president of the Notre Dame Jewish Club, a similar group but with slightly different goals.

“The Jewish Club is around to allow Jews and non-Jews alike to explore Jewish religious practices and Jewish culture. We are open to all students, and currently have about 75 members — about 10 of [whom] are Jewish,” Finan said.

Like Silver, Finan said he recognizes the importance of the Jewish Club in his life.

“I see the Jewish Club as a way for me to share my faith and religion with people who are interested,” Finan said. “I very much enjoy showing others how I practice my religion and the influence that Judaism has on my everyday life.”

First year graduate student Zachariah Silver, the younger brother of Jonathan Silver, said Notre Dame is a comfortable environment for him to practice his Jewish religion.

“It’s nice to come here and be unique. Everyone is nice about me being Jewish and wants to understand the religion. I’ve made friends here and most of them are not Jewish,” Silver said.

Despite some difficulty, Finan said his experience at Notre Dame has been a positive one.

“Being a Jewish student at Notre Dame has had its struggles, but I have overall really enjoyed it. It has lead me to grow more faithful within my religion,” Finan said.