Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, January 18, 2018

“Jews of AU” aims to showcase diversity in AU’s Jewish Community

The photo project creates an opportunity for all Jewish students at AU to tell their story.

“Jews of AU” aims to showcase diversity in  AU’s Jewish Community

Jews of AU featured three-year scholar Justin Parker after his Birthright trip last winter. 

Clarification appended. 

What does being Jewish mean to you? Since its launch at the beginning of the Spring 2016 semester, the Jews of AU photo project has asked this question to students all across campus to showcase the variety of Jewish experiences at AU.

Students at Brown University created a similar project last year that became successful, prompting Hillel International to share the idea with other campuses, according to Danny Dubin, a senior in the School of Communication and students program coordinator at AU Hillel.

When the opportunity to do “Jews of AU” came to AU’s Hillel office, Dubin decided to spearhead the project along with Dani Rosen, a sophomore in the School of Communication.

“The purpose of the page is to showcase Jewish students on campus,” Dubin said. “We don’t just want students who come to Hillel every Friday night for Shabbat dinners. We really want any Jewish student to be featured on the page and to share their stories.”

Today, the page has a five person staff of photographers and interviewers who create the features. They find many interviewees by asking around in classes and clubs, but others have even been messaging the page and going to Hillel’s office asking to be included.

Justin Parker, a three-year scholar in the School of International Service, went on a Birthright trip last winter. When he returned to campus, the Birthright coordinator connected him with Dubin who asked him to be featured on the page.

“It’s pretty informal. It was a chat, essentially,” Parker said. “It was easy, it wasn’t ‘Let’s sit down and discuss who we are.’ It was what is [being Jewish] to you and what’s it like?”

Although the page is a project started by AU Hillel, it is very much its own entity and has created a space for students to casually talk with others about their Jewish story, which can be hard to find, according to Dubin.

“We really wanted it to be something that students didn’t have to feel like they had to be part of an organization to do it - they could just be a Jewish student on campus - and no matter how they express their Judaism - whether they feel very connected or not at all,” Dubin said.

The main goal of the project is to showcase the diversity of AU’s Jewish community, according to the page, and Parker believes that diversity is inevitable in the Jewish community.

“I’d imagine that each person is going to have a different story,” Parker said. “Jews in general come from everywhere; there are so many different kinds. So no matter who you talk to it’s going to be different. Nobody is going to have the same story. You’re going to achieve diversity once you talk to more than one person.”

Dubin says it’s just the beginning for the page because the number of people writing for the page is growing, as well as the number of people sharing it. Currently, “Jews of AU” is moving toward 500 likes and hopes to continue being relatable and diverse in order to reach a greater audience.

“I’m really excited for the page,” Dubin said. “I think it does really great things for the students that are involved with it to hone their photojournalism skills, but I think it’s really great for the school as well to bring the Jewish community together and people who aren’t Jewish to see that side as well.”

The project can be found on Facebook at Jews of AU or facebook.com/AUJews

dmudry@theeagleonline.com

Clarification: Clarification: A former version of this story suggested that Danny Dubin started the "Jews at AU" photo project alone. The project was co-founded by Dani Rosen, a sophomore in the School of Communication.


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